By Innocent Anaba

A former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Kalu, has denied before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, allegations that he stole N7.2 billion while at the helm between 1999 and 2007, noting that Abia State under him had no such fund.

Orji Kalu
Orji Kalu

He also told the court that he made all his statements to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under bad treatment from some police officers.

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Kalu while continuing with his testimony before Justice Mohammed Idris to prove his innocence over charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said “Abia State doesn’t have such amount. Even the day I was leaving, we borrowed money to pay salaries. Abia State doesn’t have even a billion naira in any account at the time I was governor.”

The former governor while responding to a question by his counsel,  Chief Awa Kalu, SAN, at the resumed hearing in the case,  disclosed that there was no way he could stole what was non-existence.

The former governor who is currently the Chief Whip of the Senate narrated to the court the difficulties he encountered running the State with allocations from the Federal Government.

On his statement, he said “When I learnt they were looking for me, I called Ibrahim Lamorde (then EFCC chairman) that I was in the United States and that I will show up upon my return to the country.

“But when I returned to Nigeria, they were waiting for me at the airport and whisked me away to their office. After I was beating up thoroughly by police officers, I asked them what was my offence and they told me I have been insulting President Obasanjo. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and Ibrahim Lamorde later came to apologise to me.”

On the financial position of Abia State when he was governor, he narrated, “ The monthly allocation of Abia State when I took over in June 1999 was N168 million. The range was between N168 million and N172 million monthly. The first month that I came in, there was even no money to buy diesel. I spent my personal money to run the state for six months.

“In the year 2000, monthly allocation was between N170 million and N189 million. In 2001, it came to about N302 million to about N380 million. I can recollect that in 2002, it was almost the same and in 2003 when the revenue allocation was changed, we were having about N400 million.

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“The highest money I got as governor came from 2004 when we had about N1 billion and from that time up till May 2007 before I left, what we had was N1.6 billion.

“Throughout my stay in office, I never owed salary and pension. When I took over as governor and before I left, we moved it up to N500million. It was from this figure that we were able to do a lot of things.”

On Speaking on his line of businesses before he began his political journey, he said: “I was running a group of companies under Slok Nigeria Ltd and I own a big furniture factory in Maiduguri. I was also trading in cows. The cows were coming from Chad to Umuahia. I also had a veritable oil factory in Aba (Abia State) making supplies  to people in Kano and Maiduguri.

“I was also into shipping business with major oil companies. We also have a very big corn farm in the East and Bauchi.

“We were a major shareholder before another shareholder bought off First Bank. In 1994, the then Hallmark Bank had a problem and I later bought majority stake in the bank. We also had major interests in Banks in DRC, Gambia, Sieria-leone, Liberia and the then Sudan before crisis set in.”

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