As the trial of the former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu over alleged N3.2 billion fraud continue, a Compliance Officer with Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Adeniyi David Tunde, today told a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos how one of Kalu’s aide, Udeh Jones Udeogu and two others withdrew N714 millions from the Abia State Government House account with the defunct Spring Bank Plc using draft.
Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeogu, and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited are being tried before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.
Mr. Adeniyi, EFCC third prosecution witness, while being led in evidence-in-Chief by the EFCC’s Prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), today, after tendering some documents, which were admitted and marked ‘Exhibits D50 to D68′, used in the alleged fraud, also narrated how Udeogu through bank draft collected the said money from defunct Spring Bank Plc, acquired by Heritage Bank Plc.
Giving the details of how the monies were allegedly taken away from the Government House Account No. 191011955819, the witness stated that in November 14, 2001, a draft for N27 million was paid on the instruction to debit account number 191011955819.
He also told the court that on the same November 14, 2001, there were two transactions on the said account and it was debited with the sum of N40.3 million.
He also stated that on November 30, 2001, the account was debited with N40.3 million, with two cheques in favour of one Mike Udoh, and that a draft of N40 million was purchased by one Okoroafor in the name of Inland Bank Plc.
He also said that on July 2, 2001, a withdrawal of N9 million was made by Mike Udoh, while a draft of N9 million was purchased in favour of Inland Bank Plc.
Furthermore, the witness also stated that between December 2, 2001, and February 2003, a total of N110 million of drafts were purchased in favour of Inland Bank Plc, from the same Government House account, by Okoroafor and one O. K. Onuma.
He further stated that between March 31, 2003 and March 1, 2004, Udeh Jones Udeogu raised a total draft of the sum of N495.3 million in favour of the defunct Inland Bank Plc.
He also informed the court that the former Abia State Finance Commissioner, Udeogu used different names such as: Okey Udeh, Jones Udeogu, Udeogu E. D., and Okey Nwosu, in raising the draft.
However, during cross-examination by the defendants’ lawyer, the witness said he did not sight the computer that produced all the exhibits tendered in the Criminal trial.
Adeniyi while responding to the questions from Mr. Uche Goddy, lawyer to Dr. Kalu, said though he never work in the Umuahia branch of the bank, but stated that the transactions in the Umuahia branch of his bank were stored in the Umuahia branch database which were sent to the bank’s server.
He also stated that the money withdrawn was more than money used in buying drafts, adding that from the account opening mandate, the name of Orji Kalu was not stated neither was he a signatory to the account and that there was nowhere in the account transactions where Orji Kalu name was mentioned.
In responding to Udeogu’s lawyer questions, the witness said he never participated in the maintaining the Government House Account.
He also admitted that there was no signature name on the statement of account tendered as it was only signature and date was required, adding that not all the monies paid into the account were withdrawn.
Responding to the questions from counsel to Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, Chief K. C. Nwofo, the witness stated that it was possible for a customer to deposit money in an account and another person used the money to raise draft.
He also stated that in all the transactions carried out in the account; Slok Nigeria Limited was never mentioned.
Upon the completion of the witness evidence, Justice Idris, adjourned the matter till June 5 to 8, 2017, for continuation of trial of the defendants.
Kalu alongside his former aide, Udeh Udeogu and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, are facing trial before the court on an amended 34 count-charge of alleged N3.2 billion fraud.
In the amended charge marked FHC/L/56C/08, Dr. Kalu and other accused persons were alleged to have allegedly diverted about N3.2 billion 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,( now Heritage Bank), the defunct Standard Trust Bank, now United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Finland 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.