By Lukman Olabiyi
A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), John Ejim, has, again, admitted before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos that former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu and Slok Nigeria Limited did not benefit from funds transferred from the state’s account.
Ejim admitted this under cross-examination when he was confronted with some exhibits tendered by the EFCC.
The exhibits comprised statements of accounts of Abia State Government House, copies of bank drafts and cheques used to move funds from the account.
The witness admitted that none of the exhibits had Kalu’s name or that of Slok Nigeria Ltd as beneficiaries.
Besides, the witness also admitted, again, that the ex- governor was neither a director nor signatory to the account of Slok Nigeria Ltd., and added that there are no documents linking the ex governor to the firm.
Ejim also admiited that Kalu was not a signatory to the Government House Account while he presided over the state’s affairs between 1999 and 2007.
The witness disclosed that the then Chief of Staff, Dr. Theodore Orji, and the Director of Finance and Account, Jones Udeogu, were the signatories to the account.
Kalu, Udeogu and Slok Nigeria Limited were docked by EFCC before the court over alleged fraud but they pleaded not guilty.
Ejim who is an investigator with EFCC was the sixth witness to be called by the prosecution in the trial.
The witness was cross-examined by the defendants’ counsel led by Awa Kalu ( SAN ), Solo Akuma (SAN ) and K C Nwofo (SAN ).
While being cross-examined, the witness said the report of the investigation carried out by his team on the matter is in the EFCC’s file and that he never had any direct interface with the former governor throughout the period of the enquiry.
“The investigation started in 2004 through intelligence gathering activities. The report about the investigation we carried out is in EFCC’s file. I never had any direct interface with the first defendant (Dr. Kalu)”, the witness said.
Ejim further disclosed that he did not know the EFCC official who executed the search warrant on the office of Slok Nigeria Limited, both at Victoria Island and Apapa. He added that he was also not aware of any bankdraft that was raised in favour of Dr. Kalu (first defendant).
He said: “I don’t know the officer who executed the warrant order. I did not see any bankdraft made in favour of the first defendant. No draft was raised or lodged in the first defendant’s personal account”.
The EFCC’s investigative officer had earlier told the court that sometimes in September 2005, the commission received a petition dated September 7, 2005 from a group known as Abia Leaders’ Forum. He said his team was later instructed to investigate the allegations raised by the petitioners.
The witness further disclosed that prior to the receipt of the petition, the EFCC was already building intelligence on all state governors and had already zeroed in on those who were accused of diverting their states’ funds.
“It was on this basis that our team was directed to handle the issue of Abia state. We commenced investigation by writing letters to various banks that were identified in the intelligence information. We later analyzed the responses received from the banks. Search was also conducted with a duly search warrant on the office of Slok Nigeria Limited, both at Victoria Island and Apapa.
“Documents recovered in the course of the search were properly documented while principal officers from Abia State Government House, among whom was the then Chief of Staff, Dr. Theodore Orji, were invited for questioning. The then Director of Finance and Account, Jones Udeogu, as well as two cashiers from the Account Department of Government House, Romanus Madu and Micheal Udoh, were also invited for interrogation”, the witness said.
Further hearing in the matter has been fixed for January 16, 17 and 18, 2018.