N3.2bn Fraud: Court To Rule on Kalu, Others’ ‘No Case Submissions’ On July 31

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Justice Mohammed Idris, of a Federal High Court, Lagos, today, fixed July 31, for ruling on ‘No-Case-Submission, filed by the former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others, on relation to alleged N3.2 billion fraud leveler against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Other accused in the charge are: Kalu’s Director of Finance, Udeh None Udeogu, and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited.

The judge fixed the date after parties have argued and adopted their written addresses.

Kalu and others are being tried In the amended 36 counts charge marked FHC/L/56C/08, Dr. Kalu and other defendants were alleged to have allegedly diverted about N3.2 billions from Abia State Government’s treasury between 2001 and 2005.

They were also alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

The alleged offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the same Act.

At the last hearing of the matter, the EFCC again amended the charge to 39 counts charge.

They had pleaded not guilty to all the counts charge, which made the prosecution to commence their trial.

At the end of the prosecution’s case, Kalu and others filed no-case-submission, and urged the court to dismiss the charges and discharge them of the allegations.

At the resumed hearing of the no-case-submission, defence lawyers comprises of Awa Kalu, Solo Akume, Kingsley Nwofo all Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SANs), argued that the prosecution have failed to establish the care against their clients.

The defence lawyers particularly said the second prosecution witness, a banker with Orlu, Imo State Branch of the defunct Inland Bank, had denied signing documents tendered by EFCC, which she was alleged to have signed.

They told the court that though, the witness said the document was signed at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, and that as at the time the document was signed, she was not the bank’s compliance office.

They therefore declared the document tendered by the EFCC as ‘false document’.

The defence team also told the court that there was no evidence as admitted in the prosecution that any teller from the Government House in Umuaha, Abia State, to the third defendant, and that ingredient of payment to third defendant has not been proved.

They also told the court that the EFCC’s ‘Star Witness’, PW 19, opened as ‘incredible witness’, as he told the court that the exhibits he tendered were suspicion. And that the witness also failed to tender before the court the report he made during investigation before the court.

They therefore urged the court to hold their clients no-case-submission, and discharge them of the offences.

They told the court that the defendants filed 28 page of their no-case-submission, while the prosecution made 126 pages reply, in order to convince the court that the defendants have case to answer.

Responding, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), while urging the court to hold that the prosecution have established its case against all the defendants, stated that its not a prima facie case that was made against the defendants but a strong case.

Jacobs (SAN), also told the court that the reply on point of law served on the prosecution by the defendants was not point of law but reargument of defendants’ case.

On the document not signed by the second prosecution witness, prosecutor told the court that the unsigned documents came with the cover letter signed by the bank, and that the letter was signed by the bank.

He also told the court that the second defendant, Udeogu Jones has a company named Udez Nigeria Limited, which himself, wife and son operate in making cash lodgment of series of million. This company he said was used in obtaining draft from Government House and paid into his account.

After hearing the submissions of both parties, Justice Idris, adjourned till July 31, for ruling on the defendants’ no-case-submission.

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