© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
EFCC marks Orji Kalu’s properties for seizure by Federal Government
…EFCC has no legal basis to seal our premises — The Sun Management
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Saturday, listed properties belonging to former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu for forfeiture by the Federal Government.
Accordingly, the agency marked the premises of The Sun newspaper in Lagos for seizure. The Sun is owned by the former Abia State governor who was only on December 5 sentenced to 12 years in jail after he was found guilty in a N7.1billion fraud while he was the governor of the state.
The court also ordered the winding down of his company.
A statement by EFCC spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren sent to The ICIR on Saturday the marking was to ensure that the properties were not dissipated, following the December 5, 2019 order of Justice Muhammed Idris sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos that Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, be wound up and all assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
Kalu, who is the Senator representing Abia North in the National Assembly, had been arraigned alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, his Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House, over an amended 39-count charge bordering on conspiring and diverting the sum of N7.65bn from the coffers of the state.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them by the EFCC, thereby leading to their full trial.
In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, called 19 witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
The defendants, however, testified on behalf of themselves during the trial.
The parties, during the proceedings on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, adopted their final written addresses.
In his final submission, the prosecution counsel, Jacobs, urged the judge to jail the defendants, saying the prosecution had proved the allegations against them.
Jacobs also urged the court to wind up the company as provided by the Law and all its assets forfeited to the Federal Government.
However, the defence counsel urged the court to “dismiss the charges, acquit and discharge” their clients.
Delivering his judgment, Justice Idris found the defendants guilty on all counts.
Justice Idris held that the prosecution had established its case against the defendants.
The Judge further held that “the case was conclusively investigated, as the prosecution conducted thorough investigations.”
Justice Idris, therefore, convicted and sentenced the first defendant,
Kalu to five years imprisonment 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.
The second defendant was convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment on counts 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 10 years on counts 34, 37, 38 and 39.
Meanwhile, the management of The Sun Newspaper has reacted to the action of the EFCC insisting that the agency has no legal basis to seal its premises.
A statement issued Saturday afternoon stated that The Sun Publishing Limited was not a party to the case of EFCC vs. Orji Uzor Kalu & 2 Others.
“So we do not see why the Judgment in that case should lead to attempt to seal The Sun Publishing Limited premises,” it said.
“We do not understand the legal basis for this EFCC action,” it added noting that “It is on record that there is a pending appeal at the Supreme Court with Suit No: SC/546/2018 wherein The Sun Publishing Limited appealed against the Judgement delivered by the Court of Appeal on the interim forfeiture order made against it by a Federal High Court in 2007 based on ex parte proceeding.”
“The Notice of Appeal and Motion for Stay of Execution were duly served on EFCC by the bailiffs of the Court.”