The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) monday re-arraigned the former Abia State Governor, Mr. Orji Uzor Kalu, before a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 34-count charge of alleged money laundering.
Also arraigned before the court, is one Mr. Udeh Jones Udeogu, and Kalu’s Slok Nigeria Limited.
In the further amended charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/56/07, the EFCC alleged that Kalu and other accused persons had between August 7, 2001 and December 2005, while Kalu was governor, used the said money to procure Slok Nigeria Limited, a company EFCC claimed to solely belong to Kalu and his family.
The accused persons and one Emeka Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have between May 2002 and December 2005, conspired among themselves to launder fund illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government.
They were also alleged to have aggregated several billions of naira amounting to N3.2 billion, property of Abia State government, knowing that the said amount formed parts of funds stolen from the treasury of the state government.
The accused persons were alleged to have use Manny Bank, now Fidelity Bank Plc; Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Finland Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
In counts one to 10, Kalu was alleged to have between August 13, 2003 and August 10, 2005, while he was governor, procured Slok Nigeria Limited, the company which 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, 600,000, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government, through Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank Plc), which were converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the account of Slok Nigeria Limited.
And in counts 11 to 20, Slok Nigeria Limited and Abone, said to be at large, were also alleged to have between April 29, 2003 and August 10, 2005, retained in their accounts domiciled with the Apapa branch of First Inland Bank now First City Monument Bank, the total sum of N2.493 billion, on behalf of Kalu as governor and that the money formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury of the state government, through Manny Bank now Fidelity Bank Plc.
The alleged offences according to the prosecutor, Adeniyi Adebisi, are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the Criminal Code Act Cap. 77, Laws of the Federation, 1990, and punishable under section 16 of the same Act.
The accused persons, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge. Upon the plea of the accused persons, their lawyers, Chief Mike Ozekhome and Solo Akuma, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), urged the court to allow their clients to continue with the bail term earlier granted them.
Ozekhome informed the Justice Mohammed Idris led-court that their clients had earlier been arraigned before Justice Nyako, Adamu Bello, Uweh, all of Abuja Federal High Court, before they were re-arraigned again.
The prosecutor, Adeniyi, did not opposed the submission of lawyers to the accused persons, but said his agency only interested in the trial of the accused persons. \
Consequently, Justice Idris adjourned the trial of the accused persons till December 12 and 13, while ordered that the accused persons continue to enjoy the former bail conditions.