A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday adjourned until December 5, judgment in a N7.2 billion fraud case against former Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecuted Kalu and a former Commissioner for Finance in the state, Ude Udeogo.
Also charged along with Kalu is a company, Slok Nigeria Limited.
The judgment could not be delivered yesterday as earlier slated, as Justice Mohammed Idris was not available.
The EFCC had on October 31 2016, preferred a 34-count charge against the defendants.
The charge was later increased to 39 counts. The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to all the counts, and were granted bail.
Idris, who tried the case, was promoted to the Court of Appeal.
He consequently conducted and concluded the trial by fiat.
Following accelerated hearing, Justice Idris concluded the trial in August.
On October 22, both the prosecution and defence counsel adopted their written submissions before the court.
The judge then reserved judgment to be delivered on December 5.
On November 12, 2018, Kalu was absent for his trial, after being absent on a previous adjourned date – November 5, 2018.
Although the defence counsel informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court revoked his bail, and ordered that on his return to Nigeria, he must submit himself and his travel documents to the EFCC, or be arrested.
In the charge, the EFCC said that the defendants committed the alleged offences between August 2001 and October 2005 when he was governor.
It said that Kalu utilised his company’s account to retain N200 million in First Inland bank (now First City Monument Bank). The commission said the sum formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.
In one of the counts, Kalu’s company (Slok Nigeria Limited.) and Emeka Abone said to be at large, were alleged to have retained in the company’s account, the sum of N200 million on behalf of the ex-governor. In counts one to 10, the defendants were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion belonging to the Abia State.
The EFCC said that the defendants diverted over N7.2 billion from Abia government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as the governor, in contravention of Sections 15(6), 16 and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
The commission said that the offences also contravene the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended.