By David Olalekan.
The Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has landed back in court over alleged embezzlement of N7.2 billion state funds, levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while in office between 1999 and 2007.
Kalu refuted the allegations yesterday while continuing his testimony before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
The former governor pointed to the fact that Abia State had no such funds in its coffers during his administration, therefore, he couldn’t have stolen what didnt exist.
He said, “Abia State didn’t have such amount. Even on the day I was leaving, we borrowed money to pay salaries. Abia State didn’t have even a billion naira in any account at the time I was governor.”
Kalu further highlighted the challenges he faced with funding during his time as governor, noting that he spent his personal money to run the state for six months.
“The monthly allocation for Abia State when I took over in June 1999 was N168 million. It was averaging 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 own money to run the state for six months.
“In the Year 2000, the monthly allocation was between N170 million and N189 million. In 2001, it came from about N302 million to about N380 million. I can recollect in 2002 that 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 was in 2004 when we had about N1 billion. 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 we were able to do a lot of things”, he explained.