N3.2bn Fraud: Ex-Abia State Gov. Kalu, Others Oppose EFCC’s Amended Charge

THE former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has urged a Federal High Court, Lagos, to discountenance the second amended charge filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

Also urging the court to dismiss the said second amended charge are Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Jones Udeogu.

Kalu and other defendants are standing trial before Justice Mohammed Idris, who as being elevated to Court of Appeal, on charges bordering on alleged fraud of N3.2 billions from Abia State Government’s treasury between 2001 and 2005.

They were also alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

At the resumed hearing of their matter today, the defendants through their lawyers who include: Professor Awa Kalu, Chief Solo Akume and Chief Kingsley Nwofo, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), told the court to struck out the second amended charge, as the prosecution failed to formally apply to court before filing same.

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In urging the court to strike out the second amended charge, Kalu’s lawyer, Kalu (SAN) said: “we have a motion against the second amended charge brought by the prosecution. The motion is dated June 5, and filed on June 12, 2018, it has four reliefs, and its supported with a 16 paragraph-affidavit, and a written address, also dated June 5.

“We also submitted that the prosecution’s counter-affidavit does not supply the issues raised in our application. We therefore urged the court to stuck out the prosecution’s second amended charge”.

In the same vain, Chief Akume (SAN), lawyer to Jones, told the court that what he filed in response to the prosecution’s second amended charge was a written address, wherein he vehemently opposed the second amended charge. And urged the court to dismiss the charge in entity.

Akume (SAN) told the court that its on record that the prosecution did not formally applied to court before filing the amended charge. Saying that the prosecution did not act according to section 216(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act ACJA (2015), which made it mandatory for a formal application before any amendment can take place.

He described the second amended charge as been incompetent, and should be dismissed.

Also, Nwofo (SAN), lawyer to the Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, urged the court to strike out the charge against his client for non conformity the ACJA.

In urging the court to strike out the charge, Nwofo (SAN), said he filed motion dates June 5, 2018, supported with an affidavit of 13 paragraph, with a written address.

Responding, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), urged the court to grant his application, and refused all the applications filed by the defendants.

In urging the court to grant his application, Jacobs (SAN) told the court that going by a new authority of the Supreme court, he is permitted to orally apply to court for an amendment of charge.

He said: “the basic thing they are saying is that we cannot apply orally for the amendment of the charge. I urge the court to dismiss their applications, and grant our application”.

After listened to both parties, the presiding judge, Justice Idris, adjourned the matter till Tuesday, for ruling.

Kalu alongside his former aide, Udeh Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, are facing trial before the court on an amended 34 count-charge of alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

EFCC in an amended charge marked FHC/L/56C/08, Dr. Kalu and other defendants were alleged to have allegedly diverted about N3.2 billions from Abia State Government’s treasury between 2001 and 2005.

They were also alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

In counts one to 10, Uzor Kalu was alleged to have between August 13, 2003 and August 10, 2005, while he was the Abia State Governor, procured Slok Nigeria Limited, the company solely belongs to him and his family members, retained in his account domiciled with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank Plc, the total sum of N2. 502, 600 billion, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government, through defunct Manny Bank which were converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited.

In counts 11 to 20, Slok Nigeria Limited and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have between April 29, 2003 and August 10, 2005, retained in their various accounts domiciled with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank now FCMB, the total sum of N2.493 billion, on behalf of Orji Kalu, who was then the Executive Governor of Abia State, and that the money formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of the state government, through Manny Bank.

In count 22 to 33 of the charge, Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Emeka Abone, who were said to be at large, were alledged to have between August 13, 2003 and August 10, 2005, collaborated and concealed the genuine origin of the total sum of N2.187,400 billion, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government, through Manny Bank and converted and paid the said sum into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited, with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank Plc.

While in count 34, Orji Uzor Kalu, Udeh Jones Udeogu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Emeka Abone said to be at large, between May 2002 and December 2005, conspired among themselves to commit offence of money laundering of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government.

The alleged offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the same Act.

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