A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos on Wednesday, fixed July 31, 2018, to deliver ruling on the no-case submission filed by the former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor-Kalu, and other defendants.
At the last hearing on the case, Justice Mohammed Idris, the presiding judge, dismissed the defendants' application seeking to throw out the amended charge instituted against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In dismissing the application, Justice Idris made reference to Sections 216 and 217 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act that allows the prosecution to amend the charge at any stage of the trial.
The trial judge further stated that the prosecution could not be shut out from filing a second amended charge as the defence had not shown that the amendment would be prejudicial to it.
Immediately after the ruling, Uzor-Kalu, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeogu, were subsequently re-arraigned on the new charge to which they pleaded not guilty.
After the defendants' not guilty plea, their lawyers notified the judge of various “no case submissions” which had been served on the anti-graft agency.
The defence team also pleaded with Justice Idris for adequate time to respond to the EFCC's written address.
The court then adjourned till July 25, 2018, to entertain arguments on the “no case’’ submissions.
According to the amended charge filed by the commission, Uzor-Kalu and other defendants were alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and September 2006.
In specific terms, the former Governor was accused of using his firm, Slok Nigeria Ltd., to retain N200 million in an account domiciled in First Inland Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
The said sum, according to the EFCC, formed part of funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government.
The anti-graft agency insisted before Justice Idris that Uzor-Kalu, his company (Slok Nig Ltd), one Emeka Abone and Michael Akpan, who are now at large, allegedly collaborated to commit the offence between 2001 and September 2006.
The former Governor and others were equally alleged to have concealed the genuine origin of a total sum to the tune of N7.2 billion, which the anti-graft agency declared formed part of funds illegally derived from the Abia State treasury, and converted same into several bank drafts, which were subsequently paid into the account of Slok Nigeria Ltd.
Even in counts one to 10, the EFCC pointed accusing fingers at the defendants for retaining about N2.7 billion in different bank accounts — funds said to belong to the Abia State government.
In all, Uzor-Kalu and others were alleged to have diverted over N7.1 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury, when he was Governor of the state.
The offence, according to the EFCC, contravenes Sections 14, 15(6), 16, 17 and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.
The commission further insisted that the offence flouts 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.