The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday re-arraigned ex-Governor of Abia State, Mr. Orji Kalu, before a Federal High Court in Lagos for alleged N2.7bn fraud.
He was re-arraigned along with two other accomplices on 34 counts of money laundering before Justice Mohammed Idris. The two others are Udeh Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited.
The re-arraignment followed the transfer of their case from the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to the Lagos division, in spite of Kalu’s opposition, who earlier had been arraigned on September 27, 2016 before Justice Anwuri Chikere in Abuja.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta had ordered the transfer of the case.
The EFCC alleged that while Kalu was governor of Abia State, he stole over N2.7bn from the state’s treasury. The said stole funds diverted into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited, a company, owned by Kalu and his family.
The money was said to have have been diverted in tranches of N200m, N50m, N200m, N300.8m, N545m, N429m, N288.4m, N190m, N157m, N152.8m, N100m, N84m and N50m between August 13, 2003 and January 12, 2005.
The offence contravenes Section 17 (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003 and punishable under Section 16 of the same Act.
The EFCC accused Slok Nigeria Limited of acting in concert with one Emeka Abone, still at large, to help Kalu hold the allegedly stolen funds in its accounts, when they “knew or at least suspected the said Orji Uzor Kalu to have engaged in a criminal conduct.”
For this. the EFCC said the company is liable to punishment under Section 16 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004.
The 2nd defendant, Udeogu, was accused of aiding Kalu to pay part of the stolen funds into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited with the defunct FinBank Plc.
The offence, the EFCC says, contravenes Section 427 of the Criminal Code Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
However, the accused persons pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
Thereupon, prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi, asked the court for a trial date.
Justice Idris, on Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) application and with no opposition from the prosecutor, allowed Kalu to continue on the existing bail granted to him by Justice Adamu Bello.