A Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday adjourned until December 5, judgment in a N7.2 billion fraud case against former Governor of Abia State Orji Uzor-Kalu.
The judgement could not be delivered on Monday as earlier slated, as Justice Mohammed Idris, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal, was not available.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Jones Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited before the on an amended 39 count charge.
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) to laundered the sum.
The alleged offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the same Act.
The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the anti-graft agency called 19 witnesses and tendered many material evidence.
The defendants testified on behalf of themselves in an attempt to deny the allegations.
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Justice Idris conducted and concluded the trial under the cover of a fiat issued to him by the President of the Court of Appeal.
In an amended 39 counts, the anti-graft agency accused them of conspiring and diverting N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that 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.”
The prosecution claimed 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.”
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), said the ex-governor violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.
Apart from the N7.1bn, which he was accused of laundering, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460m allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.
The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.