Wednesday, July 25, 2007
EFCC freezes Kalu Uzor's assets
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday secured an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, to freeze assets allegedly owned by the former governor of Abia State, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu. He is currently on trial on a 107-count charge of corruption and abuse of office.
Notable among the assets temporarily forfeited to the EFCC is Sun Publishing Limited, publishers of Daily Sun, Saturday Sun and Sunday Sun.
Others are Slok Air Nigeria Ltd, which was grounded four years ago by the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Firmbase Inter Ltd, Slok Marine Vessels, Reality Organisation Nig. Ltd, International Insurance Com-pany Ltd, Tanji Resort, Gambia, Banque International in Gambia and Sierra Leone and many companies allegedly registered in the name of his wife and children.
In all, a dozen companies and numerous local and foreign accounts were frozen in an order issued by Justice A. I. Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in Suit/ Abuja/M462/107.
EFCC had, pursuant to Section 34/1 of the EFCC Act of 2004, prayed the court for an order for freezing/forfeiture of accounts/assets of the former governor who was arrested two weeks ago on his arrival from a trip to the United States. He was subsequently charged to Federal High Court, Abuja on July 16 and remanded in Kuje Prisons custody on the orders of the court.
Yesterday�s order also asked the EFCC to take over various landed property scattered in some major cities in the country including Mai-duguri, Bama, both in Borno state, Port Harcourt, and Owerri, in Rivers and Imo State, purportedly owned by Kalu.
Kalu had appeared before Justice Binta Murtala Nyako after being charged by the EFCC for allegedly transferring billions of naira belonging to the Abia State government to Slok Airline over a period of eight years.
According to the charge, Kalu transferred money belonging to the Abia state government account in the defunct Manny Bank (now part of Fidelity Bank) to the Slok Airline account at Inland Bank.
The former Abia governor was also alleged to have at various times between 1999 and 2007 transferred huge sums of government money into Slok Investment, Slok Nigeria Limited, Slok Incorporated and other companies owned by him.
The former governor was charged alongside Emeka Uzor Kalu (now at large) and Eunice Agwu (also at large). In the 107-count charge, he was said to have conspired with the two others to divert a total N2.7 billion Abia state monies to finance his private business, Slok Nigeria Limited.
An EFCC official told THISDAY yesterday that the companies and accounts that were forfeited to the commission would still continue to operate unhindered as long as their managements �co-operate with the commission in the exercise of its oversight and supervisory function over them.�