Orji Kalu: Court sets December judgement date on 7.65bn fraud

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Orji Kalu
President Muhammadu Buhari with Orji Kalu shortly after the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruq, conferred the traditional title of ‘’Danbaiwan-Hausa’’ on the former governor, in recognition of his efforts toward the development of Abia and Nigeria at large.

FEDERAL High Court Justice, Mohammed Idris has fixed December 2 to deliver judgement in the alleged N7.65 billion fraud trial of former Governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu.

Justice Idris, who has been sitting as trial judge over the matter against Kalu,  before his recent elevation to the Court of Appeal, fixed the date Tuesday in Lagos.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuted Kalu, a former Commissioner for Finance in Abia State, Ude Udeogo, and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., on the alleged offences.

On October 31, 2016, the EFCC charged Kalu with 34, later amended to 39 counts of alleged fraud.

In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.

Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain N200 million in the account of a First Inland bank, (now FCMB).

The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.

In one of the counts, his company, Slok Nig. Ltd. and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were alleged to have retained N200 million in the company’s account, on behalf of the first accused.

In counts one to 10, the defendants were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts, which funds were said to belong to the Abia State Government.

In all the counts, the defendants were alleged to have diverted over N7.2 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.

It also contravenes the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended by the amendment Act No.9 of 2002 and section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.

Kalu and the others pleaded not guilty to the charges, and were granted bails.

Following accelerated hearing, Idris concluded trial of the case in August and adjourned the case for adoption of addresses.

In his address, Defence counsel, Chief Awa Kalu, (SAN), urged the court to uphold his submissions as canvassed.

In response, the EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, has noted that the statement by the defendant was to effect that he did not receive up to N7 billion during his administration, which sum he is being accused of and that he had provided some of the funds for running Abia State at the time.

Jacobs told the court that he had shown in his processes that during the period, Abia received up to N137 billion.

He then repeated: “The first defendant knew we will cross examine him and that was why he refused to give evidence.

“Orji Kalu did not submit himself for cross examination because he knew the blatant lies and cannot face the rigours of cross examination.

“I maintain what i said,” he said.

Justice Idris then said he would consider all issues raised in his judgment, adjourned until December 2.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Kalu on November 12, 2018 Orji Kalu was absent for his trial, after being absent on a previous adjourned date of November 5, 2018.

Although, defence counsel had informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court had revoked his bail, and ordered that at the point of his entry into the country, he must submit relevant travelling documents and self, to the EFCC, failing which he will be arrested.

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