EFCC Calls Sixth Witness Against Kalu over N2.5bn Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday called its sixth witness in the ongoing trial of former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, charged with fraud before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

EFCC had on October 31, 2016, preferred 34 count charges bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against Kalu and his former Commissioner for Finance Ude Udeogo.

Also charged is a company, Slok Nigeria Limited.
The accused had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
When trial resumed yesterday the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), called on the sixth prosecution witness, Mr. Buraimoh Yakubu, an Internal Control Officer with Guaranty Trust Bank.

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Leading the witness in evidence, Jacobs asked him to introduce himself to the court and the witness added that he had been a Regional Coordinator of the bank, since 2005.

He told the court that his schedule of duty includes the investigation of fraud and irregularities, listening to customers complaints, as well as liasing with agencies.

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Giving his narration on the scheme of events in 2007, the witness told the court that the EFCC wrote a letter to his bank, requesting for account opening documents of the third accused, Slok.
He said  these account opening document of Slok, were retrieved and sent to the commission.

The prosecution then asked if he would be able to identify the document if given, and when the witness replied in the affirmative, the prosecutor tendered some of the document for the witness to identify if they were the same as those sent to the commission.

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The witness replied, yes, it’s the same.
Meanwhile, counsel to Slok, Mr. Solo Akuma (SAN), raised objection to the admissibility of the document on the grounds that it contained some other documents not emanating from GTBank.
According to him, some of the document sought to be tendered, emanated from other banks and so, the witness cannot testify on them since he is not its maker.

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Other defence counsel also aligned themselves with the submissions of the third defence counsel.
However, in a bench ruling, Justice Mohammed Idris overruled the objection of defence counsel, and held that such objection only goes to the weight to be attached to such document.

The court accordingly, admitted and marked the documents as exhibits.
Under cross examination, counsel to Kalu, Mr Awa Kalu (SAN), asked the witness, “Can you confirm that you have been working with GT Bank since 2005” and the witness replied, “Yes”

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Defence counsel also asked the witness if he had received any instruction in favour of the first accused since 2005; the witness replied “No”
Under cross examination by second defence counsel as to his academics, the witness told the court that he finished his masters between 2008 and 2010.

Justice Idris has adjourned until January 23 for continuation of trial.
In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.
Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of a First Inland bank, now FCMB, the sum of N200 million.

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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 Nigeria Limited) 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.

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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.

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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.

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