THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday called its fifth witness before a Federal High Court, Lagos, in the ongoing trial of a former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu.
The EFCC had on Oct. 31, 2016, preferred a 34-count charge bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against Kalu and his former commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo.
Also charged is a company, Slok Nig Ltd.
The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
When trial resumed on Wednesday, the prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), called his fifth witness, Mrs. Toyosi Ekorhi, into the witness box.
In her examination-in-chief, the witness, who is a compliance officer at the First City Monument Bank (FCMB), told the court that the bank had forwarded the account status of Slok Nig. Ltd to the EFCC.
She said it was in response to an inquiry by the commission, over same, about two months ago.
The witness told the court that she joined FCMB on Oct. 13, 2008, adding that the documents were retrieved from the archives of the defunct Inland Bank Plc.
She, however, told the court that she had no knowledge of its contents because she never worked at Inland Bank.
According to the witness, the company’s statements of account sent to the EFCC covered transactions carried out between Aug. 27, 2008 and Nov. 12, 2012.
She, however, claimed ignorance of the transactions which she said were done in Finbank Plc.
During cross-examination, the defence counsel, Chief Gordy Uche (SAN), enquired from the witness if the first accused was listed as a director of the company.
In response, the witness said that the name of the first accused (Kalu), was not listed as one of the Directors of Slok Nig. Ltd.
She added that the second accused (Udeogu) was also not a signatory to the company’s account.
Justice Mohammed Idris, has adjourned until June 8 (tomorrow), for cross examination of the witness by the second defence counsel.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between August 2001 and October 2005.
Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of First Inland bank, (now FCMB), the sum of N200 million.
The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.
In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig 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.
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.
Cumulatively, in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N3.2 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
It is also said to have contravened the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995, as amended by the amendment Act No. 9 of 2002 and Section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.