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Kalu Denies Stealing N7.2bn From Abia State

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A former Abia State governor and the current Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday told a Federal High Court in Lagos that he did not steal N7.2 billion from the state while he was at the helm between 1999 and 2007.

The former governor, who was testifying over allegations of fraud brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), also maintained that the Abia State under him had no such fund.

The EFCC is prosecuting Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Jones Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited on an amended 39 count charge.

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 alleged offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the same Act.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charge.

While being led in evidence by his lawyer, Prof. Awa Kalu (SAN), Kalu told Justice Mohammed Idris, who is now a Justice of the Court of Appeal but sitting on the case under the cover of a fiat issued to him by the President of the appellate court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, that there was no way he could steal what was non-existence.

He also testified that “Abia State doesn’t have such amount. Even the day I was leaving, we borrowed money to pay salaries. Abia State doesn’t have even a billion naira in any account at the time I was governor.”

To back up his denial of the allegations, the former governor also spoke about the difficulties he encountered in running the state with allocations from federal government.

The defendant further claimed, “The monthly allocation of Abia State when I took over in June 1999 was N168 million. It was averaging between N168 million and N172 million monthly.

The first month that I came in, there was even no money to buy diesel. I spent my own money to run the state for six months.

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