N3.2bn Fraud: Absence Of EFCC’s Lawyer Stalls Former Abia State Governor, Two Others Trial

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BY OLUGBENGA SOYELE, Lagos

The ongoing trial of former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and two others over alleged N3.2 billion fraud before the Federal High Court in Lagos was yesterday stalled due to the absence of the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

The trial judge Justice Mohammed Idris was forced to adjourn the case till November 8, 2017, when the defence counsel informed the judge that Jacobs had already written to them, stating that he would not be in court.

Justice Idris, who denied knowledge of the letter, expressed his displeasure at the development, stating that trials in criminal cases were meant to be day-to-day by virtue of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited are being tried before the Court, by anti-graft agency on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.

They were alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc,( now Heritage Bank), the defunct Standard Trust Bank, now United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

They however all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

So far, the prosecution has called five witnesses to prove its case against the defendants.

In the further amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07, the EFCC alleged that Kalu and accused persons had between August 7, 2001, and December 2005, while Kalu was the Governor of Abia State, used the said money to procure Slok Nigeria Limited, a company EFCC claimed to be solely belong to Kalu and his family.

The accused persons and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have between May 2002 and December 2005, conspired among themselves to launder fund illegally derived from the Treasury of Abia State government.

They were also alleged to have aggregated several millions of naira amounting to N3.2 billion, property of Abia State government, knowing that the said amount formed parts of funds stolen from the Treasury of Abia State government.

The accused persons were alleged to have use Manny Bank, now Fidelity Bank Plc, Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to carry out their criminal acts.

In counts one to 10, Uzor Kalu was alleged to have between August 13, 2003 and August 10, 2005, while he was the Abia State Governor, procured Slok Nigeria Limited, the company solely belongs to him and his family members, retained in his account domiciled with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank Plc, the total sum of N2. 502, 600 billion, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government, through Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank Plc), which were converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited.

And in counts 11 to 20, Slok Nigeria Limited and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have between April 29, 2003 and August 10, 2005, retained in their accounts domiciled with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank now First City Monument Bank, the total sum of N2.493 billion, on behalf of Orji Kalu, who was then the Executive Governor of Abia State, and that the money formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of the state government, through Manny Bank now Fidelity Bank Plc.

In count 22 to 33 of the charge, Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Emeka Abone, who he said to be at large, were alleged to have between August 13, 2003 and August 10, 2005, collaborated and concealed the genuine origin of the total sum of N2.187,400 billion, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government, through Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank), and converted and paid the said sum into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited, with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank Plc.

While in count 34, Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Emeka Abone, who he said to be at large, between May 2002 and December 2005, conspired among themselves to commit offence of money laundering of funds illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government.

The alleged offences according to the prosecutor, Adeniyi Adebisi, are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the Criminal Code Act Cap. 77, Laws of the Federation, 1990, and punishable under section 16 of the same Act.

Culled from here

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