By Joseph Onyekwere
The Biafra Times
December 5, 2019
The federal high court in Lagos has sentenced the former governor of Abia State Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years imprisonment after being found guilty on all the 39-count charges brought against him.
He was convicted of N7.65billion fraud perpetuated when he was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu was convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Abia State director of finance, Ude Udeogu.
The court also ordered forfeiture of all assets of his company to the federal government.
Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered the sentence, had earlier declared him guilty of the charge in the case that had been on for 12 years.
In an amended 39-counts-charge, they were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of conspiring and diverting over N7 billion from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Kalu “did procure Slok Nigeria Limited – a company solely owned by you and members of your family – to retain in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on your behalf.”
The prosecution claimed that the N7.1 billion “formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was converted into several bank drafts before they were paid into the said company’s account.”
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The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, said the ex-governor violated Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.
Apart from the N7.1bn, which he was accused of laundering, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also accused of receiving a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.
The prosecutor said they breached Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to all counts.
During the trial, the prosecution called 19 witnesses while the defendants testified by themselves.
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Publisher: Charles Opanwa
5th DECEMBER 2019
A visibly shaken former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu pleaded with prison warders not to handcuff him as they led him away after he was handed a 12 years jail term for fraud and money laundering.
Kalu was sentenced to time in prison on Thursday by a Federal High court sitting in Lagos.
He was heard asking prison warders, “where are you taking us to?” followed with a request not to be handcuffed in public. The former governor, who appeared shaken, said, “Where are you taking us to now? Please don’t handcuff me.
Earlier, Kalu wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief when the Judge was reading an abridged version of the 228-page judgment.
Kalu’s associate, Udeogu, was sentenced to 10 years in prison while the company which was used in committing the fraud, Slok Limited, was ordered to be wound up and all the assets forfeited to the Federal Government. The case began in 2007, 12 years ago, when they were first arraigned for the offences but before a different judge.
Justice Mohammed Idris also convicted and sentenced the former Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment, while his co- convict a former Director of Finance in Abia State Government House, Udeh Jones Udeogu, was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Justice Idris held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved that the convicts conspired and divert N7.65bn from the coffers of the Abia State.
The court found him and his co-defendants guilty of the entire 39 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Justice Idris sentenced Kalu, to five years imprisonment each from counts one to 11 and three years each from counts 23 to 33.
He was also sentenced to 12 years each, from counts 34 to 38 and five years on count 39. The total sentence is 133 years imprisonment, but he would be serving 12 years.
The Judge said that the sentence is to run concurrently. Justice Mohammed said that money laundry offence is a crime against humanity. He said that the offence of money laundry is anti-human and it is one of the dangerous offences in the world.
* Abia residents lament forfeiture of assets to FG
By Joseph Onyekwere,
Eniola Daniel, Onoharhigho Omovudidi (Lagos),
Adamu Abuh, Msugh Ityokura (Abuja)
6th December 2019
Reactions poured in yesterday in the wake of the 12-year jail term bagged by a former Abia State governor Orji Uzor Kalu for fraud. For the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), the conviction was proof of President Muhammadu Buhari’s sincerity in fighting corruption, even as some residents in the state described the forfeiture of assets to the Federal Government as unfair.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said the conviction of a high ranking APC chieftain proves that the courts are independent in this dispensation.The statement reads in part: “For some time, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its supporters had been casting aspersion on the anti-corruption crusade, especially in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
“The claim then was that all a politician seeking protection from trial needed to do was to join APC. And this was even after two former governors who are also members of the ruling party, had been convicted and sent to jail.“This speaks to the focus and uncompromising nature of the administration. If a high-ranking senator is in jail, then clearly a message has been sent out on the rule of law.
“So, if there was any doubt about President Muhammadu Buhari’s sincerity, then the fact that a ranking member of his party has been sentenced to a 12-year jail term is proof that such doubts had been unfounded.”But a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia, Chief Okey Nwagbara, insisted he wants “the Federal Government to do justice by converting the property of Slok to Abia government, because the money he was accused of stealing belongs to the Abia State government.”
He nevertheless praised the judgment, saying it demonstrates the commitment of the Federal Government to fighting corruption. “It is a very straight-forward judgment against corruption. The judgment shows that the judiciary is independent and is actually the hope of the common man,” Nwagbara said.
Similarly, a lawyer and social critic based in Abia, Chief Ukpai Ukairo, told the News Agency of Nigeria: “The judgment is momentous and shows that you can run but cannot hide. The judgment shows that though the wheel of justice grinds slowly, it will surely grind very well. This is the time for Abia to recover money stolen by that regime and use it meaningfully. It is also a warning to all those in positions of authority that abuse the trust of the people.”
Twelve years after he exited office as a governor of Abia State, a Federal High Court, Lagos, yesterday convicted and sentenced Kalu to 12 years imprisonment over a N7.2 billion fraud.Justice Mohammed Idris convicted Kalu alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Jones Udeogu, who served under him as Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House in Umuahia.
The convicts have vowed they would appeal the decision.While Udeogu was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, the judge ordered the winding up of Slok Nigeria Limited, ordering that its assets be forfeited to government.Of the 39 counts filed against the trio, the judge convicted Kalu of the entire 28 counts where his name featured. On each of counts one to 11 and 39, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment; on each of counts 23-33, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment; and on each of counts 34-38, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He said the sentences would run concurrently, meaning that Kalu will spend 12 years in jail.
Idris also found Udeogu guilty of 11 out of the 16 counts where his name featured. He was pronounced not guilty on five counts. On each of counts 23-25 and 27-32, Udeogu was sentenced to three years imprisonment. On each of counts 34-38, he was sentenced to 10 years, while the judge gave him five years on count 39. He said the sentences would run concurrently, meaning that Udeogu will spend 10 years in jail.
In respect of Slok Nigeria Limited, Idris pronounced: “An order is hereby made that the third convict shall without further assurances but from this order be wound up and all the assets and properties forfeited to the Federal Government.”In pronouncing the convicts guilty, Idris said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, stating: “I sincerely cannot find my way clear in finding these defendants not guilty of the offences charged.”
The judge hailed the investigation leading to the charge as in-depth and conclusive, stressing: “No gaps were left unfilled. This is the acceptable standard.”He said: “I hold the view that the prosecution has established its case against the defendants. It did not fall short of the standard required by law in money laundering offences. It is clear upon the facts before this court that the prosecution had this case conclusively investigated before opting to bring this charge against the defendants.
“Having reviewed all that has been provided by the prosecution in terms of oral and documentary evidence, I am inclined to resolve the singular issue for determination in favour of the prosecution herein.”Idris said further: “Let me remind those who hold positions of authority in this country that they shall be held responsible for their conducts. When they act contrary to the law, the same law will catch up with them. I will like to borrow a leaf from the words of the late Dele Giwa, who stated that, ‘No evil deed will go unpunished. Any evil done by man to man will be redressed, if not now, certainly later; if not by man, then by God, for the victory of evil over good is temporary’. It is in this light and circumstances that I again find the defendants guilty.
Kalu joins the list of governors who have been convicted on corruption charges. Former Taraba State governor, Jolly Nyame, was convicted by a high court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and was sentenced to serve a 14-year jail term for diverting N1.64 billion.
A former Plateau State governor, Joshua Dariye, was also convicted of misappropriating N1.16 billion ecological funds between 1999 and 2007. He bagged a 14-year jail sentence.James Bala Ngilari, a former Adamawa State governor, was sentenced to five years in jail without an option of fine for defrauding his state of N167 million.
Lucky Igbinedion, former governor of Edo State, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for laundering N25 billion. He however had struck a plea bargain that made him pay a fine of N3.5 million.A former Delta State governor, James Ibori, got a 13-year jail sentence via a London court for laundering $250 million.The late Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyesegha, got a two-year jail term based on a plea bargain after he was found guilty of money laundering.
When Orji Uzor Kalu visited me (Nnamdi Kanu) in the prison, I told him to leave the Fulani caliphates and support his people that Fulani don't love him for anything but he refused and went ahead, denouncing his tribe and culture, sabotage his people to receive Fulani titles thinking that he is safe in their hands. And now my question is,WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU NOW? ~ Mazi Nnamdi Kanu
Tell your son Nnamdi Kanu to drop agitation for Biafra and look for job or join politics,
We are ready to help him instead of allowing him to risk his life for Biafra.
Nnamdi Kanu's mother!
My son Nnamdi Kanu is old enough to know what he is doing,
If Nigerian government kill him in the process, let them give me his corps to bury.
By Mazi Victor C Okafor