Justice Mohammed Idris sitting in the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, on Thursday, August 29, 2019, adjourned further hearing in a N7.6bn fraud trial involving a former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others to October 22, 2019.
Kalu is standing trial alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogu, and a company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on an amended 39-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N7.6bn.
At today’s sitting, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, asked the second defendant, Udeogu, if the Cash Unit was under his Department and how staff were paid.
In his response, the defendant said the junior staff were paid in cash, while the senior staff and political appointees, who were on special salaries, were paid through banks.
Jacobs, however, faulted the response by the defendant who had in his earlier evidence claimed that all disbursements of funds were done in cash.
When asked to clarify his evidence that the Chief of Staff allegedly instructed him to lodge some drafts in Inland Bank, the second defendant said some instructions to raise drafts were given to him, while some were given to other staff under him.
Asked if the Chief of Staff instructed him to pay the sum of N15, 000,000(Fifteen Million Naira) into the account of his company, where his wife and son are directors, he said could not remember the circumstances that led to that, adding that “I am only doing my job to the best of my ability.”
When the prosecution counsel further asked if he knew where the constant payment of the sums of N71, 000,000.00 and N51, 000,000.00 inflows came from, he replied that they were from the Ministry of Finance.
The prosecution counsel, however, put it to him that the funds came from the Local Government of Abia State before they were converted to Slok Nigeria Limited account.
When asked who approved the contracts above the sum of N100, 000,000.00(One Hundred Million Naira), the defendant replied that “several people are involved, but it must go through the State Executive Council and payment must receive approval of the Governor.”
When asked if he knew it was an offence to pay government funds into his account, he replied that “it’s not an offence.”
In his evidence, Manuel Ahunanya, a banking and finance consultant, told the court that he configures banking templates that help to solve banking problems in areas of investigation of bank accounts.
Led in evidence by Solo Akuma, SAN, Ahunanya stated that bank drafts had more credibility “because they originate from banks.”
Ahunanya also stated that a bank draft could be lodged into any account by rendering a deposit slip.
He, however, stated that no two instruments bear the same number.
Under cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Ahunanya told the court that banks regulations differ.
“If a draft is bad, the bank will not honour it.
“But banks sometime exercise their own discretion,” he further said.
Consequently, Justice Idris adjourned the case October 22, 2019, for adoption of final written addresses.