A federal High court in Lagos on Thursday found a former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, guilty of fraud.
Justice Mohammed Idris who read the judgement is yet to pronounce the sentence for the offences for which Mr Kalu was convicted.
The judge said Mr Kalu was guilty of the charges. After the conviction, Mr Kalu’s lawyers pleaded with the court for a favourable sentence.
Mr Kalu has been facing trial for over a decade after he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly carting away billions of naira while he served as Abia State governor.
Mr Kalu was tried alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
The judge concluded the trial in August.
On October 22, both the prosecution and defence counsel adopted their written submissions before the court.
The judge then reserved judgement to be delivered today, December 5.
Mr Kalu is currently a senator representing Abia State.
In an amended 39-count charge, the defendants were accused by the EFCC of conspiring and diverting over N7 billion from the coffers of the state.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Mr Kalu, who was Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “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.”
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 N7.1 billion, 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.
In an attempt to prove the allegations, the prosecution called 19 witnesses while the defendants testified on behalf of themselves.