The trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu, who was accused of fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), could not continue on Wednesday at a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
Kalu’s trial suffered another setback today as the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, was absent in court as he is said to be attending a judges’ conference outside the state.
However, parties in the case have agreed to return to the court on November 28.
The former governor is standing trial on 34 counts of fraud and diversion of about N3.2bn which the EFCC claimed belongs to the Abia State Government.
He was alleged to have conspired with his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, to divert the monies when he served as governor of the state.
The two men, who were charged alongside Kalu’s company – Slok Nigeria Ltd, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The offences were allegedly committed between August 2001 and October 2005, by utilising the company to retain the sum of N200m in a bank account.
Slok Nigeria Ltd and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained the sum of N200m in the company’s account on behalf of the former governor.
They were also accused of retaining about N2.5bn in different accounts; funds the anti-graft commission claimed belong to the Abia State Government
The offences are said to be contrary to Sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, Laws of the Federation 2005, as well as the Money Laundering Act of 1995.