A prosecution witness in the trial of the former Abia State Governor, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu on alleged fraud of N3.2 billon, today, told a Federal High Court, Lagos, how the former governor issued six cheques with monetary value of N436 million, in favour of a newspaper, News Republic newspaper.
The witness, Yakubu Braimoh, an Internal Control Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) while being led-evidence by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Mr Yakubu Braimoh , told the court how six different cheques amounting to N436m were issued in favour of New Republic Newspapers.
Yakubu Braimoh who is an Internal Control Officer with Guarantee Trust Bank, GTBank, when the alleged fraud took place, made the narratives while being led in evidence-in chief by counsel to EFCC, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.
The Prosecution had earlier tendered several documents through the witness which were all admitted in evidence.
The witness while giving evidence, said that sometimes in 2007, the EFCC, wrote the bank requesting for documents relating to the accounts of Slok Nigeria Limited, a company owned by Kalu.
Braimoh added that GTBank forwarded all necessary documents relating to the company to the commission, these, he said include, account opening packages and other instruments.
He confirmed that in the course of the investigation by the anti-graft agency, several correspondence took place between the commission and the bank, he also admitted making statement to EFCC.
The witness, while being led in -evidence Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) identifies six of the instruments which are drafts issued in favour of New Republic Newspapers.
Although, the prosecution did not lead evidence as to what the money was meant for.
Earlier, two of the defence counsel, Chief Solomon Akume (SAN) for Udeh Jones and Mr C.C Nwofo for Slok Nigeria Limited opposed the admissibility of the documents but were were overruled by the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris.
Justice Idris adjourned until January 23, for continuation of trial.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.
Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of a First Inland bank, now FCMB, the sum of N200 million.
The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.
In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig Ltd) and one Emeka Abone who is said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account the sum of N200 million, on behalf of the first accused.
In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts, which funds were said to belong to the Abia state government.
Cumulatively, in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N3.2 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
It is also said to have contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended by the amendment Act No.9 of 2002 and section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.
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