A no-case submission made by former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu over his trial on alleged fraud of N7.2bn said to have been committed during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007, has been dismissed by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Justice Mohammed Idris, Tuesday, held that he has a case to answer in the money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC alleged that Kalu, who as governor between 2001 and September 2006, procured Slok Nigeria Limited, a company owned by him and members of his family, to retain N7.2bn in the Inland Bank Plc account, on his behalf.
The Commission said the money “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of Abia State government and converted to several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”
Kalu was accused of collaborating with Udeh Jones Udeogu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Emeka Abone (at large) “in concealing the genuine origin of N7,197,871,208.70.”
He pleaded not guilty to an amended 39-count charge which EFCC said violates Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16.
The defendants had filed no-case submissions, urging the court to dismiss and acquit them as the prosecution’s case was “watery.”
The Judge said that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the defendants based on the evidence before the court.
Justice Idris also held that there was a link between Mr Kalu and the two others.
“You have explanations to make,” the Judge said.
Following the ruling, one of the defence counsel, Goddy Uche, informed the court that the lead counsel to the defendants, Awa Kalu, had written to notify the court that Kalu has an appointment to undergo a surgery abroad.
He, therefore, prayed the court to adjourn the matter to September 10 to enable the first defendant, Kalu, to open his defence.
In his response, the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, urged the court to adjourn further proceedings to the first week of September, saying that “The President of the Court of Appeal has directed that the matter must be concluded before the end of September 2018.”
Consequently, Justice Idris adjourned the case to September 10, 2018 for the defendants to open their defence .