Orji Uzor Kalu pleads not guilty to money laundering charges
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday charged former Gov. Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia 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, on 34 counts bordering on money laundering.
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 which included the trial of the accused persons.
Idris consequently, adjourned the case to Dec. 12 and 13 for trial and 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 utilised 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 also 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), Spring Bank Plc, the defunct Standard Trust Bank and Finland Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
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.
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. (NAN)