A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, John Ejim, over alleged fraud, has admitted before the Federal High Court, Lagos, that the ex governor was neither a director nor signatory to the accounts of Slok Nigeria Ltd.
Ejim admitted under cross-examination by Kalu’s lawyer, Awa Kalu (SAN), that no documents linked the ex governor to the firm.
He also admiited before Justice Mohammed Idris that Kalu was not a signatory to the Government House accounts while he presided over the state’s affairs between 1999 and 2007.
The witness, in his testimony, said the then Chief of Staff, Dr. Theodore Orji, and the Director of Finance and Accounts, Jones Udeogu, were signatories to the account.
Ejim who is an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC ), under cross-examination, 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 inquiry.
“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 that 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 continues today.