The economic and financial crimes commission(EFCC) is poised to re-arraign former Abia state governor and chairman of Slok Holdings, Orji Uzor Kalu on allegations of corruption.Kalu will be arraigned in an amended 34-count charge over an alleged diversion of about N3.2bn from the Abia State Government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
Kalu was arraigned along with two others before Justice Idris of the Lagos federal high court. He was was accused of diverting state funds into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited, a company, the EFCC claimed was owned by Kalu and his family members.
The former governor was said to have diverted the funds 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 is said to be contrary to Section 17 (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003 and punishable under Section 16 of the same Act.
The EFCC accused one Emeka Abone, currently at large, of helping Kalu retain the allegedly stolen funds in its accounts, when Slok Nigeria Limited “knew or at least suspected the said Orji Uzor Kalu to have engaged in a criminal conduct.”
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 helping Kalu to pay part of the allegedly stolen funds into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited with the defunct FinBank Plc.
The offence is said to be contrary to Section 427 of the Criminal Code Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
The accused, however, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.Consequently, the prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi, asked the court for a trial date.However, Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), informed the court that his client had earlier been arraigned and granted bail and urged Justice Idris to allow him continue on the existing bail.
In response, the prosecutor said he was not opposed to the application to allow the defendants to continue on their existing bail.