14th April, 2017
In the ongoing trial of former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu over alleged N3.2 billion fraud, a Compliance Officer with Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Adeniyi David Tunde, on Thursday, narrated to a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria how Kalu’s aide, Udeh Jones Udeogu and two others withdrew N714 million from the Abia Government House account with the defunct Spring Bank Plc using a bank draft.
Kalu, his Commissioner for Finance, Udeogu, and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited are being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.
Mr. Adeniyi, the EFCC third prosecution witness, while being led in evidence by the EFCC’s prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), also narrated how Udeogu through bank draft collected the said money from defunct Spring Bank Plc, now Heritage Bank Plc.
Giving the details of how the monies were allegedly taken away from the Government House Account No. 191011955819, the witness revealed that in November 14, 2001, a draft for N27 million was paid on the instruction to 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 disclosed that on November 30, 2001, the account was debited with N40.3 million, in favour of Mike Udoh, and that a draft of N40 million was purchased by Okoroafor in the name of Inland Bank Plc. He said 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.
The witness revealed further that between December 2, 2001, and February 2003, a total of N110 million drafts were purchased in favour of Inland Bank Plc, from the same Government House account, by Okoroafor and one O. K. Onuma.
He said 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 recounted how 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 drafts.
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 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 were more than the money used in buying drafts. He added 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 no where in the account transactions where Orji Kalu’s name was mentioned.
Responding to Udeogu’s lawyer’s questions, the witness said he never participated in maintaining the Government House Account. He also admitted that there were no names on the statement of account tendered as it was only signature and date that were required.
He further said that not all the monies paid into the account were withdrawn.
In responding to the questions from counsel to Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, Chief K. C. Nwofo, the witness said it is 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 in all the transactions.
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.