Monday, October 31, 2016 2:24 pm
By Akin Kuponiyi
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), today re-arraigned the former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, before a Federal High Court,in Lagos, south west Nigeria on alleged 34 counts charge of money laundering.
Also arraigned alongside the former Governor before the court is one Mr. Udeh Jones Udeogu, and Kalu’s company Slok Nigeria Limited.
In the further amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07, the EFCC alleged that Kalu and other accused persons 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 owed by 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 used used the following bank to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, now Fidelity Bank Plc, Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
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. 5 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.
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 various 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 were said to be at large, were alledged 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, Orji Uzor 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.
All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge. Upon the plea of the accused persons, their lawyers, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN and Solo Akuma SAN, urged the court to allow their clients to continue with the bail earlier granted them.
Ezekhome (SAN), told the court that their clients have earlier been arraigned before Justice Binta murtala Nyako, Adamu Bello, and and Justice Uweh, all of Abuja Federal High Courts, division and granted bail before they were re-arraigned again today.
The prosecutor, Mr. Adeniyi Adebisi did not opposed the submission of lawyers to the accused persons, but said his agency is only interested in the trial of the accused persons.
Consequently, the presiding Judge Mohammed Idris, adjourned till December 12 and 13, for trial to commence while the accused persons were ordered to continue to enjoy the former bail granted them.
The author of this story Akin Kuponiyi can be reached at [email protected]