Alleged N3.1bn fraud: Court adjourns trial of ex-Benue governor Suswam till June

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has again adjourned the trial of former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam alongside his former Commissioner of Finance, Omadachi Okolobia.

Justice A.R Mohammed on Wednesday adjourned Suswam’s trial to June 8, 2023, to enable the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to tender a fresh Exhibit P6 before the court.

Exhibit p6 was earlier tendered before the court, but as a result of the movement of the case from Justice Mohammed to Justice Okon Abang of the same jurisdiction, some portions of the documents from pages 41-98 got missing from the records of the court.

However, prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacob (SAN)’s record is intact and prayed the court to allow him to use the copy to proceed with the trial but defense counsel, J.B Daudu (SAN) and Paul Erokoro (SAN) objected, insisting that the prosecution continue with the case or tender the remaining documents as new exhibits.

They also proposed that the case be adjourned for the prosecution to once again present the missing documents.

After listening to their submissions, Justice Mohammed adjourned the matter to June 8, 2023, for the continuation of the trial.

Earlier, the prosecution called its Prosecuting Witness 6, PW6, an Assistant Commander of the EFCC, ACE1 Mustapha Yusuf Ibrahim to testify before the court.

Ibrahim told the court that during investigations, his team wrote letters to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) requesting the statement of accounts of the first defendant.

“The UBA account is the first defendant’s salary account, my Lord and the GTB is his personal savings account in naira and dollar. After receiving the statements of the account, we analyzed it accordingly,” Ibrahim said.

“In the analysis of the UBA account which is the first defendant’s salary account, we discovered that the last salary he received was N443,000 (Four-Hundred and Forty-Three Thousand Naira) and that was in February 2013.”

Asked whether Suswam received any salary before receiving February 2013 wages, Ibrahim said all other salaries were drawn in 2012 and the reason was that the state had no money to pay salaries at that time.

The witness further told the court that when they received the bank statement of Elexia Securities, they discovered a certain payment for the sale of shares belonging to the Benue State government was made into the account of Benue State’s Ministry of Finance.

“My Lord, between September 12, 2014, and October 22, 2014, the total sum of N5.3 billion in four tranches was made to the Benue State Ministry of Finance’s Zenith Bank account from the sale of shares by Elexia Securities, my Lord”, he said.

Suswam and Okolobia are facing trial amended 11-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion naira.

The Guardian

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