The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Monday filed a 32-count amended charges against former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The anti-graft body had in 2007 initially pressed 96-count charges, including money laundering, against the ex-governor, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Jones Udeogo.
Mr. Kalu and his co-defendants were accused of diverting fund belonging to the state government while in office as governor of the state between 1999 and 2007.
However, their re-arraignments were stalled following a pending appeal involving the 3rd defendant, Slok Nigeria Limited, at the Supreme Court.
Counsel to the third accused, Solomon Akuma (SAN), drew the court’s attention to the subsisting appeal at the Supreme Court, and urged the court to adjourn the proceedings to allow parties sort out the appeal.
On his part, the prosecuting counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, opposed the application, pointing out that Section 306 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015, prohibited stay of proceedings in a criminal matter at the trial court on account of a pending appeal.
Mr. Atolagbe argued that the appeal in question was similar to the two previous appeals involving the Messrs. Kalu and Udoego, which the Supreme Court had decided on March 18.
According to him, the court had dismissed the accused persons’ objections to the charge preferred against them.
In his ruling, Justice Chikere Anwuli granted the application and subsequently adjourned the suit to June 30.
The EFCC had on February 11, 2008, also amended the charge and presented a 112-count charge against the accused, which was further amended.
Count one of the charge alleged that Mr. Kalu, between August 13, 2003, and October 9, 2003, while being the Executive Governor of Abia State procured Slok Nigeria Limited.
The count one also alleged that the ex-governor caused the company to retain in its account, domiciled with the then First Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, the sum of N200 million.
According to the charge sheet, the allegedly looted money formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government through Standard Trust Bank (now United Bank for Africa Plc).
The charge therefore held that Mr. Kalu committed an offence contrary to Section 17 (C) of the Money Laundering.