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CRIME

N3.2b Fraud: Court Admits Exhibits Against Former Abia State Governor

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Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos has admitted in evidence two documents tendered against a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Idris admitted the two documents, the first titled, “Financial Regulations of Abia State and another one containing details of salaries paid to Dr. Kalu while in office as Abia state governor.

The EFCC had attempted to tender the documents on Monday but the move was opposed to by defence team led by Chief Awa Kalu (SAN).

The lawyer argued that apart from not being certified, the documents were not front- loaded by the prosecution as mandated by Section 379 (1) (a) (5) of the Evidence Act.

He further argued that there was also an indication that the documents are not from Abia state government as the name of one, Ibe M. I. was inscribed on one of them

But the anti-graft agency’s lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs argued that the Financial Regulations requires no certification because it is a government publication. He further claimed that the document was published by the Abia State Head of Service.

On the second document, Jacobs argued that the objections raised by the defence were largely on the weight to be attached to it by the court and not really on its admissibility. The judge agreed with the prosecutor and admitted the documents in evidence.

The EFCC is prosecuting Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Jones Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.

They were alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc,( now Heritage Bank), the defunct Standard Trust Bank, now United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

The pleaded not guilty to the charge. After the ruling the Accountant General of Abia State, Gabriel Chinenye Onyendilefu concluded his testimony.

Responding to a question from the EFCC’s lawyer, Onyendilefu said he got the figures for the salaries of the former governor from the payroll unit of government house, adding that the total salary paid to the former governor between 1999 and 2007 amounted to N22, 312, 272.

However, upon his cross-examination by lawyer to the 2nddefendant, Chief Solo Akuma (SAN), the witness revealed that the salary extract was not signed by anyone at the payroll unit.

He also disclosed that the 2nd defendant (Udeh Jones Udeogu) never informed him that he paid any money from Government House Accounts to Slok Nigeria Ltd.

The witness also faulted insinuations that he was retained in the civil service to testify against the defendants.

“I was not retained in service in order to testify against the defendants. The reason for the extension was specified in my letter”, he said.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to March 5.

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