.orji-uzor-kaluThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday charged former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, with money laundering before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Kalu is charged alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Ude. They are facing a 34-count charge bordering on money laundering.

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The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After the plea, counsel to the accused, Mr Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to allow the accused to continue with an earlier bail condition.

Ozekhome informed the court that the accused had earlier been arraigned before Justice Nyako, Adamu Bello and Uweh, all of Abuja Federal High Courts before they were re-arraigned today.

The prosecutor, Mr Adeniyi Adebisi, did not oppose the submission of defence counsel.

Adebisi, however, added that EFCC was only interested in the justice of the case. Adebisi also added that justice includes the trial of the accused persons.

Idris, consequently, adjourned the case to December 12 and 13 for trial. He also ordered that the accused continue with the subsisting bail terms.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.

Kalu was alleged to have utilized his company to retain in the account of a First Inland Bank, now FCMB, 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 alleged to have retained in the company’s account N200 million, on behalf of the first accused.

They were alleged to have utilised Manny Bank (now Fidelity Bank Plc), and Spring Bank Plc. They also used the defunct Standard Trust Bank and also Finland Bank, now FCMB.

N3.2 billion looted

In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5b in different accounts. These funds allegedly belong to the Abia State Government.

Cumulatively in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N3.2b from Abia government’s treasury. This all took place 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.