The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday fixed December 2 to deliver judgement in the trial of former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others for an alleged fraud of N7.65billion.
The judge, Mohammed Idris, fixed the date at the court hearing on Tuesday after the prosecution and the defence adopted their written addresses and made their final arguments in the 12-year-old case.
Mr Kalu was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited; and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Mr Kalu’s tenure as governor.
In an amended 39 counts, they were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of conspiring and diverting N7.65billion from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Mr 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 N7.1billion “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.”
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 N7.1billion, which he was accused of laundering, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460million 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.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to all counts.
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called 19 witnesses while the defendants testified on behalf of themselves against the allegations.
On Tuesday, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr Jacobs (SAN), urged the judge to jail the defendants as the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Mr Jacobs said the 2nd defendant had already admitted to the offence both in an extrajudicial statement and under cross-examination.
“The admission is binding on all the defendants,” the prosecutor said.
He added that contrary to Mr Kalu’s statement that Abia State did not have as much as N7 billion during his administration, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation showed total allocation to Abia State under Kalu was N137billion.
However, the defence urged the court to dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge their clients.
After hearing them all out, Justice Idris fixed December 2 for judgment.