A Federal High Court Division of Lagos jailed an Abia State sitting senator and ex-governor, Orji Kalu, to 12 years ‘ imprisonment over N7.65 billion corruption on Thursday.
In the case that had been on for 12 years, Justice Mohammed Idris, who delivered the sentence, had previously declared him guilty of the offence.
Mr Kalu was tried alongside his business, Slok Nigeria Limited, and Udeh Udeogu, who was Chief Finance and Accounting Officer at the House of Abia State Government during Mr Kalu’s term as Governor.
They were convicted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in an amended 39 counts charge of plotting and diverting more than N7bn from the state’s coffers.
In one of the counts, the EFCC alleged that Mr Kalu, who served as Abia State Governor between 1999 and 2007, “procured Slok Nigeria Limited–a company owned solely by you and members of your family–to hold on your behalf a total amount of N7,197,871,208.7 in its account, domiciled with the then Inland Bank Plc, Apapa branch, Lagos.”
In addition to the N7.1bn, which he was charged with laundering, the ex-governor and the other defendants were also charged with collecting a total of N460 million allegedly stolen from the treasury of the Abia State between July and December 2002.
The prosecutor said they were in violation of Section 427 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap 77, Nigeria Federation Laws, 1990.
The convicted pleaded not to be guilty to all charges.
During the trial, 19 witnesses were called by the prosecution while the defendants appeared on their behalf.
In his judgment, Mr Idris convicted and sentenced Mr Kalu to five years in prison on counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11; three years on counts 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33; 12 years on counts 34, 35, 36, 37 and 38 and five years on count 39. All sentences are to be served at the same time, meaning that from the day of arrest he would be in jail for 12 years.
The second defendant was found guilty and sentenced on counts 34, 37, 38 and 39 to three years in prison on counts 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 10.
The sentences would run at the same time, ensuring he’d be 10 years in jail.
Justice Idris further held that the business of Mr Kalu, Slok Nigeria Limited, the third defendant, was wounded and the federal government confiscated all property.