How Ex-Gov. Kalu Approved Diversion of Abia’s Funds – Witness
The trial of a former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, continued on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, with a prosecution witness, John Ejim, further revealing how the former governor allegedly laundered the state’s funds. Kalu is being prosecuted alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones James Udeogu, for money laundering to the tune of over N3.2bn.
Under cross-examination by Kalu’s lawyer, Awa Kalu, SAN, Ejim, an investigator with the EFCC said the Abia Leaders’ Forum that petitioned the Commission about the alleged diversion of funds by the accused was different from Concerned Citizen’s Forum. When Ejim was asked whether he confronted the first defendant with a petition against him before taking his statement, Ejim said a colleague from the team that investigated him did. He also told the court that the team of investigators interrogated Kalu over the petition and not him directly.
When counsel to the first defendant further asked the witness if his client stated in his statement to the EFCC that the funds were from the security vote during his tenure, the witness told the court that the fact was stated in Kalu’s statement. The witness also explained that his team visited Abia during the investigation and came back with some documents that they worked on.
In his response to a question regarding if the former governor told the EFCC that security vote was neither accountable nor retrievable, the witness said: “That was Kalu’s statement, but the investigation proved otherwise. Also, the witness told the court that the first defendant stated in his statement that he resigned as Director of Slok Nigeria Limited.
Asked if he visited the CCB to confirm Kalu’s resignation. “The team of investigator visited the Code of Conduct Bureau”.
When asked if he found any minutes of the Board of Directors’ meeting that bore Kalu’s name, the witness said EFCC had documents that bore the name of the first defendant as at 2004. Meanwhile, when counsel to the second defendant, Jones Udeogu, Solo Akuma , asked the witness how many days the EFCC detained Udeogu before taking him to Court, the witness said he could not remember.
He, however, told the court that he interfaced with Udeogu during the investigation and that the accused made his statement to the team that interrogated him. In his response to the identity of signatory to the account of the Government House, Umuahia during the administration of Kalu, the witness mentioned the following officials: the ex-Chief of Staff to Kalu, Chief T.A Orji and his former Commissioner For Finance and Accounts, Udeogu.
He further stated that the former governor gave directive through his approval for the operations of the Government House accounts. When asked if the work of the Director of Finance included signing of cheques, the witness said “yes”. Justice Idris adjourned to Thursday, November 30, 2017 for continuation of cross examination.
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