Orji Uzor Kalu
After a 12-year trial, a former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, was on Thursday, December 5, sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted by the Federal High Court in Lagos over N7.1bn fraud.
Kalu, who is a serving senator of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Abia North senatorial district has been facing trial for over a decade after he was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly carting away billions of naira while he served as Abia state governor.
Following the surprising conviction of Orji Kalu, Legit.ng highlights three costly mistakes that may have led to the current ordeal of the former governor.
1. Merging family business with government business
One of the errors Kalu made which later came back to haunt him was that during his tenure as governor of Abia state between 1999 and 2007, he involved a family company in government business. During his sentence on Thursday, December 5, the Federal High Court in Lagos found the former governor guilty of using his company, Slok Nigeria Limited to divert the sum of N7.65 billion from the coffers of the state.
2. Accused of dipping hands into the Abia state treasury
In an amended 39 count charge, the EFCC had accused Kalu and Udeh Udeogu, a former director of finance and accounts in Abia of illegally taking N460 million from Abia’s treasury.
If the politician was found guilty of this charge then it was likely another mistake that worked against him.
What many people fail to understand is that money often leaves behind a trail of records, especially when moved in large quantities. That is why many government officials often hide under the guise of awarding bogus contracts to embezzle money so that when traced they can claim the money was used for a legitimate purpose.
3. Orji Kalu could have struck a deal before defecting from the PDP to the APC
As one of the founding members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the southeast zone, it came as a surprise when Orji Uzor Kalu suddenly defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2016. But the politician who was standing trial for alleged corruption at the time might have made a political error by defecting to the APC without any leverage. Probably if Kalu had made a deal with the ruling party to get his trial dropped with a promise to help the APC gather support in the southeast his current travails might never have occurred.