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HomeNewsEFCC re-arraigns Orji Kalu in Lagos

EFCC re-arraigns Orji Kalu in Lagos

Former Abia State Governor Mr Orji Uzor Kalu on Monday lost his bid to avoid being re-arraigned in Lagos for an alleged N3.2billion fraud.
He had petitioned Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Justice Ibrahim Auta opposing a bid to transfer of his case from the Federal High Court Abuja to the Lagos Division.
But, the CJ refused the prayers, paving the way for his re-arraignment before Justice Mohammed Idris sitting in Ikoyi.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned Kalu along with Udeh Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited on 34 counts of money laundering.
They were first arraigned on September 27 before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the court’s Abuja division.
On learning that the case had been transfered to Lagos, Kalu, through his lawyer Prof Awah Kalu (SAN), filed an ex-parte motion seeking leave of court to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the CJ to reverse the transfer.
He also prayed that the order should operate as “a stay of all actions, matters or issues ancillary to or relating to or pertaining to or connected with the case, pending the hearing and determination of the suit.”
EFCC, Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), and Justice Auta are the respondents.
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by a lawyer, Mr Ikechukwu Njoku, Kalu said the case, filed after he left office in 2007, suffered delays due to interlocutory appeals.
Kalu said he temporarily relocated to Abuja to face the trial, therefore it would be in the interest of justice to let the case remain in Abuja.
The suit, filed after the transfer of the corruption case to Lagos, is still pending in Abuja.
Kalu and his co-accused allegedly diverted about N3.2billion from the Abia’s treasury while he was the governor.
Kalu was said to have allegedly diverted the funds in tranches of N200million, N50million, N200million, N300.8million, N545million, N429million, N288.4million, N190million, N157million, N152.8million, N100million, N84million and N50milliob 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 Slok Nigeria Limited of conniving with one Emeka Abone said to be at large, to help Kalu retain the allegedly stolen funds in its accounts.
The prosecution said Slok “knew or at least suspected the said Orji Uzor Kalu to have engaged in a criminal conduct.”
Udeogu was accused of helping Kalu to pay part of the allegedly stolen funds into Slok’s account with the defunct FinBank Plc.
They were alleged to have utilised Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank Plc), Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and FinBank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB) to divert the funds.
In counts one to 10, 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.
Kalu was alleged to have, between August 13, 2003, and August 10, 2005, used his company Slok to retain N2.5billion in his account domiciled with the Apapa branch of  First Inland Bank.
EFCC said the money formed part of funds illegally derived from the state’s treasury and were converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into Slok’s account.
In counts 22 to 33, Kalu, Udeogu, Slok and Abone allegedly collaborated to conceal the genuine origin of N2.1billion, which formed parts of funds Illegally derived from the treasury between August 13, 2003, and August 10, 2005.
The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged Justice Idris to allow him to continue on the bail earlier granted him.
“We are seeking the court’s discretion for the first defendant to continue on the existing bail granted to him on April 20, 2008 by Justice Adamu Bello.
“Since this matter has started, he has not jumped bail. He is an employer of labour; therefore, he will not undermine this court,” the SAN said.
Udeogu’s lawyer, Mr Solo Akuma (SAN), also urged Justice Idris to allow his client to continue on the existing bail granted him.
“The second accused person is a retired permanent secretary and his wife is a judge of the Federal High Court,” Akuma added.
Prosecution counsel Mr Adebisi Adeniyi did not oppose the applications.
Justice Idris granted as prayed and adjourned until December 12 and 23 for trial.




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