16th EFCC witness gives details over Kalu’s alleged N3.2bn fraud charge

16th EFCC witness gives details over Kalu’s alleged N3.2bn fraud charge

- A Federal High Court in Lagos heard evidence from the 16th witness over a case of alleged fraud against Orji Uzor Kalu's government

- The administration is accused of alleged N3.2 billion fraud

- Orji Kalu's company, Slok Nig Limited, is also charged

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday, April 16, called its 16th witness before a Federal High Court in Lagos in the ongoing trial of Orji Uzor Kalu, who is standing trial on charges of N3.2 billion fraud.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the witness, Robinson Imafidon,who is the head of regulatory liaison, in a first generation bank, narrated how series of monetary transactions were carried out on the account of the Abia state Government House during the tenure of Kalu, a former governor.

The EFCC had on October 31, 2016, slammed a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2 billion fraud on Kalu and his former commissioner for finance, Ude Udeogo (the second accused). Also charged is Kalu’s company, Slok Nig Ltd.

The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bails. Since the trial began the prosecution had called 15 witnesses.

The report said leading the 16th witness in evidence, the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), asked the witness to introduce himself to the court. The witness said he works as the bank’s regulatory liaison officer and has a work schedule of responding to emails and request from regulators such as the EFCC, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) among others.

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According to the report, he told the court that EFCC had written a letter to the bank, requesting account opening documents of the Abia state Government House, Umuahia. The witness said the document including the statement of account and mandate, were retrieved from the system and after due certification and verification, were sent to the EFCC.

The prosecution then showed the witness a bulk document and asked him to confirm if the certification were from him to which the witness replied in the affirmative.

Jacobs sought to tender in evidence the statement of account of the Abia state Government House, Umuahia, from 2002 to 2007.

The defence did not raise any objections and the court admitted the document and marked same as Exhibits U to U18.

The prosecution asked the witness to identify Exhibit U14, and in response, the witness explained that it is the statement of account of the Abia state Government House, but in an old format. He added that there had been a change from the old format which had the old account number, to a new format which he called Finaco, and which has the new 10-digit account number.

When he was showed exhibit B23, the witness told the court that the exhibit was a fund transfer form by the second accused (Udeogo) in which he applied for a draft of N50 million with the debit to be made from the Government House account.

He said on May 31, 2002, there were two cash deposits by the second accused in the sums of N2 million and N7.3 million respectively. He also told the court that on June 3, a draft of N10 million was paid by the second accused, while on July 1, there was an issue of a demand draft of N11 million and another draft of N15 million on August 19.

The witness said on September 16, 2002, there were two cash deposits of N50,000 and N5 million respectively by one MA Udoh, who was an accountant in Abia at the time.

While being cross-examined, Awa Kalu, counsel to the first accused, asked the witness: “How many times have you testified in all your life?”

The witness told the court that he had testified several times before law courts but could not recall how many times.

Concerning whether it is the practice for two people to append their signatures on a document as shown in some of the exhibits, the witness replied: “Two people may sign, but there are exceptions. When one of the signatories is not available then someone else can sign; more so, where the issue is not so significant, then one person may sign.”

The defence counsel then asked that the witness should be showed exhibit B, and asked: “When do you archive a transaction?”

Witness said here was no specific time to archive a transaction, adding that once a transaction was concluded and thoroughly verified, it goes to the archive.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned continuation of trial until April 17.

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According to NAN, Kalu is alleged to have used his company to retain several sums of money in his account illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia state government.

Hhe report said his company (Slok Nigeria Ltd) and one Emeka Abone, who is said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account the sum of N200 million on behalf of the first accused.

The accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts which funds were said to belong to the Abia state government.

The accused were alleged to have cumulatively diverted over N3.2 billion from the Abia state government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor with the offences contravening the provisions of sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the money laundering (prohibition) act, 2005.

NAIJ.com earlier reported that Orji Uzor Kalu suffered a setback as a federal court in Lagos made a vital ruling against him.

Onovai Oghenevoh, a prosecution witness in the corruption trial will be allowed to give evidence against him.

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Source: Naija.ng

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