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Alleged N7.65bn Fraud: Jail Former Abia State Governor, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, Others - EFCC

SENATOR ORJI UZOR-KALU 



  • As Judge Delivers Judgment In 12-Year-Old Fraud Trial December 2


BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU


IKOYI, LAGOS STATE, NIGERIA - Except in the event of sudden change in schedule, a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris, JCA, will on December 2, 2019, deliver judgment in the fraud trial of the former governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, alongside two others over allegation of fraud to the tune of N7.65bn.


Justice Mohammed Idris arrived at the date on Tuesday (today) after entertaining the adoption of final written addresses from parties in the case which had lasted for 12 years. 


Besides Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, others standing trial alongside the former governor are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited; and Udeh Udeogu, who had held sway as the Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu's reign as governor.


It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in an amended 39 counts, accused Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.


According to the charge in one of the counts, the anti-graft agency alleged that Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”


It was also the contention of the Commission that the N7.1bn “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”


Particularly, lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) maintained that Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.


Going further, the EFCC argued that aside the N7.1bn, which Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu was alleged to have laundered, the former Abia State governor  alongside other defendants were equally accused of receiving a total sum of N460m allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.


Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) insisted that Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu alongside others breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.


However, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others pleaded not guilty to the charge as slammed against them by the EFCC.


In its moves to prove the allegation of fraud against Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others, the anti-graft agency called no fewer than 19 witnesses.


Also in an attempt to defend themselves, Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others gave testimonies on behalf of themselves while trying to deny the allegations.


Specifically, today, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) prayed Justice Mohammed Idris (JCA) to send Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others to prison having proven the allegations against them.


Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) also insisted that the 2nd defendant had already admitted to the offence both in his extrajudicial statement and under cross-examination.


According to Rotimi Jacobs (SAN): “The admission is binding on all the defendants.


"Contrary to Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu's Claim that Abia State did not have as much as N7bn during his administration, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed total allocation to Abia State under Kalu was N137bn."


But the defence team asked Justice Mohammed Idris, JCA, to dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu and others.


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