On trial for corruption at home, Orji Kalu initiates Africa’s anti-corruption conference

Orji Uzor-Kalu
Orji Uzor-Kalu

A conference to discuss and find solutions to the challenge of corruption on the African continent is to hold in the first quarter of next year, and a former Governor of Abia State, Uzor Orji Kalu, is the coordinator of the initiative.

The conference is to hold in South Africa.

Disclosing this in Liberia on Monday, Mr. Kalu said the initiative was his and those of the international community and partners who are concerned about the effect of corruption on the continent.

The former governor, during a visit to the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in Moronvia, said it was amazing how African leaders amass wealth, leaving their countries extremely poor and now go outside the continent to invest such stolen funds.

He said that his visit to Mrs Sirleaf was in continuation of his advocacy on anti-corruption, which he conceived to genuinely fight corruption in Africa.

He lamented the preferential and sentimental judgments in the process of prosecuting corrupt people, describing it as unfair to the judicial process and rule of law.

Mr. Kalu stated further that the initiative is a joint project with the international community, including development partners and volunteers, who are equally worried about the fundamental problem and are determined to ensure the success of the crusade.

He decried the way African leaders invest their wealth in foreign lands at the detriment of their people.

But the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission is trying Mr. Kalu himself for corruption, although he has denied any wrongdoing.

Shortly after leaving office in July 2007, the EFCC arraigned Mr. Kalu before an Abuja High Court on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering, official corruption and diversion of public funds totaling over N5 billion.

The case is still in court. In April, the Court of Appeal in Abuja ruled that the EFCC can prosecute the former governor, saying the anti-graft agency has established prime-facie cases against the defendant.

Mr Kalu had approached the appellate court to set aside the ruling of the Federal High Court that the former governor had a case to answer and that there were prima facie case of corruption against  him.

But during his visit to the Liberian President, the former governor  commended Mrs Sirleaf  for fighting corruption in her country, and informed her that she is one of the few African presidents cleared by the international partners to attend the proposed anti-corruption conference.

He commended the leadership style of the President in the reconstruction of Liberia and the peace and political stability she has brought to bear on the country, which has propelled economic growth and development.

He urged her to remain steadfast and focused on her mission.

Responding, the Liberian President thanked Dr. Kalu for the visit and lauded his anti corruption initiative.

She said having worked with international organisations, she is well informed on the rate and negative consequences of corruption on the continent.

She advocated for collaborative efforts by all stakeholders to fight the scourge that has negatively affected governance and in essence development.

She used the opportunity to reflect on the appointment of her sons, Robert and Charles Sirleaf as Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia and Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia respectively, which she described as merited.

She said Mr. Robert is a professional banker who has wide experience in investment banking, having worked in leading financial institutions in Wall Street, USA.

Charles, she said, is also a financial expert who has worked in commercial banks and became a director in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Liberia in the previous government and was seconded to the Central Bank of Liberia from the Federal Ministry of Finance by the past government.

Mrs. Sirleaf has been widely criticized for appointing her relatives to top positions.

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