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N3.2bn fraud: Court admits more evidence against ex-Abia governor, Orji Kalu

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Mudassir Ibrahim
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, admitted in evidence a number of documents tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against a former governor of Abia State, Orji Kalu.

Mr Kalu is being prosecuted alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogu, for money laundering to the tune of over N3.2bn.

At today’s sitting, a prosecution witness, John Ejim, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that the Commission received a petition against Mr Kalu and two others sometime in September 2005 by a group named Abia Leaders’ Forum at a time the Commission was gathering intelligence reports on ex-governors diverting public funds.

Mr Ejim, who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, added that prior to receiving the petition, the commission had already written letters to Hallmark Bank, Citizen Bank (formerly Spring Bank and now Heritage Bank) and Inland Bank (now FCMB), among others.

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Justice Idris admitted in evidence the letter of petitions as exhibit G.

Mr Ejim also told the court that the responses from the banks were analyzed and a search was conducted with a search warrant at the Apapa and Victoria Island, Lagos offices of Slok Nigeria Limited.

He added that documents that were recovered in the course of investigation were documented by the commission.

While Mr Kalu’s statement, as Director of Slok, to the EFCC was admitted in evidence as exhibit H1-H3, the documents recovered from Slok offices were admitted in evidence as exhibit “H”.

The letters written to the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, by the EFCC in respect of the companies linked to Mr Kalu was also admitted in evidence as exhibits G1-G16.

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Giving further evidence, Mr Ejim told the court that principal officers of the Government House, Umuahia, such as the ex-Chief of Staff to the Abia State Government House, T.A Orji; the former Director of Finance and Accounts, Jones Udeogu; two cashiers from the Government House, R.K. Madu and M.A. Udo , were invited and interrogated by the commission, where they made useful information under words of caution.

Mr Orji’s statement was admitted in evidence as exhibits J4-J8; Udeogu’s statement was admitted in evidence as exhibits J1-J3; the statements of Udo was admitted as exhibits J9-J10 and Madu’s statement as exhibits J12-J15.

“Investigation by the Commission revealed how cheques were raised from Abia State Government House through the serving officers who used them to obtain cash.

“They also used the cash to purchase drafts in the name of Inland bank. They used to pay the draft in favour of Slok Nigeria Limited,” he added.

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Mr Ejim also told the court that Udeogu, Romanus and many others used fictitious names to receive the money and that the names they used to raise the drafts were not in the nominal payroll of the Abia State Government House.

According to the witness, “they used to claim that the money was meant to purchase Okirika materials in Benin Republic.

“All the drafts from UBA were written in favour of Inland Bank, which they used to lodge into Slok Nigeria Limited.”

He also told the court that there was no contract between Abia State Government House, Umuahia and Slok Nigeria Limited during the administration of Mr Kalu.

The case was adjourned to November 29 for continuation of trial.

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