– Don’t handcuff me in public, Kalu begs prison warden
According to a slogan of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), “you will be found out anywhere, anytime, if you are fraudulent and had embezzled public funds or looted the treasury of your state, local government or community”. The law is often said nppo respecter of your office, position or person and there is no sacred cow when the law takes its course.
For Senate Chief Whip and former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, the prison beckons. He has joined the likes of Senator Joshua Dariye of Plateau State and Rev. Nyamme of Taraba State, who as his colleague Governors between 1999-2007, stole their states blind and kept their people in perpetual hunger, anger, sorrow and agony. He is to forfeit property acquired through treasury looting to the federal Republic of Nigeria. The stark reality of the activities of Magu’s EFCC are today starring the likes of Rochas Okorocha in the face.
The Former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for fraud. He was sentenced along with his former Government House Director of Finance/Acountant, Jones Udeogu, also from Igbere in Abia State.
Kalu, who is the Senate’s Chief Whip smiled at reporters after his conviction and said, ‘2023, here we come’ as he was led out of the courtroom by “Correctional Services” officials as re-named Nigerian prison services (NPS) after his sentencing, into the waiting prison van and was driven-off to probably meet his ex- colleagues governors convicts, Joshua Diriye and Rev Nyamme.
He was also seen asking the prison warden, “where are you taking us to?” Kalu then begged the prison warden not to handcuff him in the public.
The former governor, who appeared shaken, said, “where are you taking us to now? Please don’t handcuff me. I will follow you”.
A short while earlier, Kalu wiped out tears dropping profusely from his eyes with a white handkerchief just as Justice Mohammed Idris, began reading an abridged version of the 228-page judgment that re-wrote the history of the anti corruption crusade waged by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kalu’s associate, Jones Udeogu, was sentenced to 10 years in prison while the company which was confirmed to be used in perpetrating the fraud, “Slok Nigeria Limited”, was ordered to be wound up by Justice Idris Mohammed and its assets forfeited to the federal government.
The case began in 2007, 12 years ago, when they were first arraigned for the offences, but before a different judge. Within this period, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, as he is fondly called attempted to frustrate or scuttled his trial. He even traveled abroad to seek the intervention of foreign leaders to stop his arraignment but all that are to no avail as he cools his heels in prison today.
In an amended 39 counts, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), spiritedly proved that they, Kalu and Udeogu had criminally conspired, divert N7.65bn from the coffers of the Abia State government. The sentence therefore brings to an abrupt end, Kalus flourishing political career and has justified General Olusegun Obasanjo, who first accused him of fleecing Abia State. Obasanjo had accused Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu of using proceeds of his criminal enrichment to float an Airline called Slok Air. He did not only impound the Airplanes he banned it from operating in Nigeria.
The federal high court which sat in Lagos as a result sentenced the former governor of Abia State Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment after finding him guilty on all the 39-count charges, brought against him. The same applied to handsome Jones Udeogu.
He was convicted of N7.65billion fraud perpetuated when he was Abia State governor between 1999 and 2007, using his kinsman, Jones Udeogu, who he brought from the private sector while struggling as a street boy as proxy and accomplice in fraud.
Kalu was in addition convicted alongside his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former director of finance, Ude Udeogu, thus proving why it is dangerous to us mediocre in conducting government business.
The court also ordered forfeiture of all assets of his company to the federal government, leaving the convicts at the custody of officials of Nigeria’s correctional services.