By Onozure Dania – Lagos
Former Governor of Abia State, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, who was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, over N7.65billion fraud, by a Federal High court sitting in Lagos, while being led out of the court by the Correctional Service officers on Thursday said ‘2023, here we come’.
Kalu, who is the Senate’s Chief Whip smiled at reporters and said, ‘2023, here we come’ as he was being led out of the courtroom by Correctional Services officials after his sentencing.
He was also seen asking prison warders, “where are you taking us to?”. Kalu pleaded with the prison warders not to handcuff him in public.
The former governor, who appeared shaken, said, “Where are you taking us to now? Please don’t handcuff me.
Earlier, Kalu wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief when the Judge was reading an abridged version of the 228-page judgment.
Kalu’s associate, Udeogu, was sentenced to 10 years in prison while the company which was used in committing the fraud, Slok Limited, was ordered to be wound up and all the 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.
Justice Mohammed Idris also convicted and sentenced the former Kalu, to 12 years imprisonment, while his co- convict a former Director of Finance in Abia State Government House, Udeh Jones Udeogu, was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Justice Idris held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved that the convicts conspired and divert N7.65bn from the coffers of the Abia State.
The court found him and his co-defendants guilty of the entire 39 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Justice Idris sentenced Kalu, to five years imprisonment each from counts one to 11 and three years each from counts 23 to 33.
He was also sentenced to 12 years each, from counts 34 to 38 and five years on count 39.
The total sentence is 133 years imprisonment, but he would be serving 12 years.
The Judge said that the sentence is to run concurrently.
Justice Mohammed said that money laundry offence is a crime against humanity.
He said that the offence of money laundry is anti-human and it is one of the dangerous offences in the world.