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N7 Billion Fraud: Former Abia Governor, Orji Kalu Bags 12 Years Imprisonment

By Ayo Akindele, Lagos

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – A Federal High Court, Lagos Division has sentenced a former Governor of Abia State and serving Senator Orji Uzor-Kalu to 12 years in prison over N7.65 billion fraud.

Ahead of the ruling, Justice Mohammed Thursday held that the ex-Governor was guilty of the charge filed against him. The case has been instituted for not less than 12 years ago.

The Senator was the Governor of the South East State between 1999 and 2007.

He was arraigned in the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) 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 eight years regime.

The amended 39 counts charge accused Kalu of diverting over N7 billion from the coffers of the state.

Among the charges pressed against the ex-Governor accused Kalu  “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.”

Another charge alleged that the N7.1 billion “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, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, argued that the offence violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.

He was also accused of receiving a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The prosecutor argued that they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.

Kalu and other defendants had pleaded not guilty to all counts.

While the prosecution called 19 witnesses the defendants testified on behalf of themselves.

Justice Idris in his final judgement, convicted and sentenced the first defendant, (Kalu), to five years imprisonment on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; three years on counts 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33; 12 years on counts 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and five years on count 39. All the sentences are to run concurrently meaning he would be in prison for 12 years from the day of conviction.

In the same vein, Justice Idris held that the third defendant, Kalu’s company – Slok Nigeria Limited, be proscribed with all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

The second defendant was also convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment on counts 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 10 years on counts 34, 37, 38 and 39.
The sentences will run concurrently meaning he would be in jail for 10 years.

Short URL: http://www.africanexaminer.com/?p=50109

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