The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Friday closed its case against a former Governor of Abia, Orji Kalu and two others charged with N3.2 billion fraud.
The EFCC Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced closure of the prosecution’s case at the Federal High Court, Lagos. He, however, informed the court that the prosecution intended to amend the charge against the accused to reflect more evidence.
The EFCC had on Oct. 31, 2016, slammed a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against Kalu, his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and Slok Nigeria Ltd. The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bails.
Jacobs had led the 17th prosecution witness, Chidi Chukwuka, in evidence at the last adjournment.
At the resumed trial of the case on Friday, Kalu’s counsel, Mr Awa Kalu (SAN), continued the cross-examination of the witness.
Chukwuka had earlier told the court that he was a Deputy Director in the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and an investigator with the EFCC as at the time of the alleged fraud.
He said during his investigations, he had obtained statements from Mr Samuel Iheke, a former Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
He said he also obtained statements from Mr Chinedum Elechi, the then Secretary, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in Abia.
Awa applied to tender the statements the witness had identified and same were admitted and marked as Exhibits Z to Z9 respectively. When the witness was asked what the state officials had told him was the reason for the N26 million monthly withdrawals from the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) account of the state, the witness replied: “The officials had claimed that the withdrawals were used for sanitation in Abia State.”
He testified that over N2.5 billion was transferred from the Abia Government House main account to Abia State University and Secondary Education Management Board accounts.
Counsel to the second accused, Mr Solo Akuma (SAN), asked if the witness was fully involved in the investigation to which he responded in the affirmative.
Akuma : By count 24 of the charge preferred by the EFCC against the accused, is it correct to say that the N554 million came in various cheques?
Witness : I don’t know, He said the EFCC did not investigate the accused before the petition from Eyinnaya Abaribe.
Mr Kingsley Nwofo (SAN), counsel to Slok Nigerai Ltd., asked the witness if any of the statements had shown funds move from the Government House accounts to the third accused (Slok), he responded in the negative.
There was no re-examination and the witness was discharged.
Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case until May 30 and May 31 for defence to open their case.
The EFCC alleged that Kalu and the others committed the offences between August 2001 and October 2005.
The commission accused Kalu of utilising his company, Slok Nigerai Ltd., to retain N200 million in the account of First Inland Bank ( acquired by First City Monument Bank, FCMB).
It said the sum formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the state government.
The commission also said that the accused had in different bank accounts about N2.5 billion belonging to Abia and diverted about N3.2 billion from the coffers of the government.
The offences contravened sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005 and the Money Laundering Act of 1995 (as amended by Act No.9 of 2002 and Section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.