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Heritage Bank Tenders Documents In Kalu, Others' Alleged N3.2bn Fraud

A Compliance Officer with Heritage Bank Plc, Mr. Adeniyi David Tunde, on Wednesday, tendered some documents in the ongoing trial of former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, and his former Commissioner for Finance, Udeh Udeogu, and Slok Nigeria Limited, Kalu's company, on alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

The former Abia State governor, Kalu, his company, and his Commissioner of Finance, are being tried before Justice Mohammed Idris led-Court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on an amended 34 count charge of N3.2 billion fraud.

At the resumed trial of the three defendants on Wednesday, Adeniyi, who is the third EFCC witness to give evidence in the Criminal trial of the defendants, said he joined Heritage Bank from moribund Spring Bank, which was acquired by Heritage Bank Plc.

Adeniyi while being led-in-evidence by Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) tendered some documents emanated from Spring Bank, which includes; account opening packages, statement of account, schedule of payments.

The documents were admitted and marked as exhibits D1 to D49.

However, attempt by the EFCC witness to tendered another set of documents emanated from the defunct Citizen Bank, another Bank acquired by Heritage Bank, which were said to Abia State Government House, was opposed by the legal team of the defendants.

In opposing the admissibility of the said documents, Mr. Goddy Uche, Chief Solo Akuma, and Chief K. C. Nwofo, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN), told the court that the documents the prosecution intend to tender were not served on their clients. Adding that the documents were not also parts of the prove-of-evidence.

Akuma (SAN) particularly informed the court that cited section 379(1)(a)(ii) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), to support their opposition to the admissibility of the said documents.

Consequently, the defence legal team urged the court to reject the documents and  mark it as 'rejected'.

In response, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Jacobs (SAN), in urging the court to admit the documents said what guide the admissibility of documents is Evidence Act not ACJA as canvassed by the defendants' lawyer. He however, pleaded with the court for a stand down to enable him serve the copies of the documents on the defendants.

In his ruling, Justice Idris, stated that in accordance with section 379 of ACJA, it is mandatory for the prosecution to supply the defence all materials needed to defend themselves.

Justice Idris therefore directed the prosecution to make available copies of the documents and serve the defendants same.

The matter has been adjourned till Thursday, for continuation of trial of the former Abia State Governor and others.

Kalu alongside his former aide, Udeh Udeogu, and his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, are facing trial before the court on an amended 34 count-charge of alleged N3.2 billion fraud.

In the amended charge marked FHC/L/56C/08, Dr. Kalu and other accused persons were alleged to have allegedly diverted about N3.2 billions from Abia State Government's treasury between 2001 and 2005.

They were also alleged to have used the following banks to perpetrate the alleged fraud, Manny Bank, Spring Bank Plc, (now Heritage Bank), the defunct Standard Trust Bank, now United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Fin Land Bank, now First City Monument Bank (FCMB).

The alleged offences according to the EFCC are contrary to sections 17(c) 16, 14(1)(b)17(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2003, and sections 427 of the same Act.

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