I Used My Money Run Abia For Six Months – Orji Kalu

Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State, told a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday that he ran the state for six months with money from his own pocket.

He said the monthly allocation of Abia State when he took over in June 1999 was N168 million, and that it was hovering between N168 million and N172 million monthly.
According to him, there was no money to buy diesel when he assumed office.
He also recalled how he gave former President Olusegun Obasanjo the sum of one hundred million naira after he was released from prison in 1998.

The ex-governor, now senator representing Abia North Senatorial District of the state, also said Abia State under his administration had no such fund as he was accused of stealing.
Kalu said this before Justice Mohammed Idris while defending allegations of money laundering and fraud levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The ex-governor said he also gave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the sum of five hundred million naira when it was formed in 1998.
While being led in evidence by Professor Awa Kalu (SAN) at the resumed trial, Kalu narrated how he met nothing in the account of Abia State when he assumed office as governor in 1999.

He said he met a monthly allocation of N168 million, which was not enough to pay the salary of the state civil service.

“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,” he said.

Kalu, who is currently the Chief Whip in the Senate, spoke about the difficulties he faced with the allocations from the Federal Government.

He said: “The monthly allocation of Abia State when I took over in June 1999 was N168 million. It was hovering between N168 million and N172 million monthly.
“The first month that I came on board, there was even no money to buy diesel. I spent my own 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 in 2002, it was almost the same, and in 2003 when the revenue allocation was changed, we were having about N400 million.
“The highest money I got as governor came in 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 N500 million. It was from this that we were able to do a lot of things.”
Earlier, in his evidence, Kalu told the court that he had been a successful businessman before venturing into politics.

Speaking on his line of businesses before he had his first bite in politics, he said: “I was running a group of companies under Slok Nigeria Limited and I had a big furniture factory in Maiduguri.

“I was also trading in cows. The cows were coming from Chad to Umuahia. I also had a vegetable oil factory in Aba, supplying to people in Kano and Maiduguri.

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

“We were a major shareholder before another shareholder bought over FirstBank. 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 the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Gambia, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, and the then Sudan before crisis set in.”

The former governor also said he bought and sold properties in Nigeria and abroad.
He further disclosed that he made all his statements to the EFCC under bad treatment from some police officers attached to the agency.

“When I learnt they were looking for me, I called Ibrahim Lamorde, then EFCC’s Head of Operation, and told him that I was in the United States and that I would 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 beaten up thoroughly by police officers, I asked them what was my offence and they told me that I had been insulting President Obasanjo.

“However, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, then Chairman of the EFCC, and Ibrahim Lamorde later came to apologise to me,” he added.
Justice Idris thereafter adjourned further hearing in the matter till today.

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