N3.1bn Fraud: Absence of 2nd Defendant Stalls Suswam’s Trial

The trial of former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, over alleged financial misappropriation before the Federal High Court, Abuja, was on Wednesday stalled due to the inability of the second defendant, who was remanded on Monday by another High Court Judge, to attend trial.
Suswam (1st defendant) and his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobia, (2nd defendant) were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a nine- count charge, bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1bn.
They were alleged to have diverted proceeds of the sale of shares owned by Benue Government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
The offence, the EFCC said was punishable under Section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
At the resumed trial before Justice Ahmed Mohammed, Wednesday, counsel to the Oklobia, Samson Egede, apologised to the court for the absence of the 2nd defendant.
He said he was on remand in Kuje Prison since Monday on the orders of Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
Despite he was granted bail, he said, the conditions are yet to be met. He pleaded for an adjournment to enable him meet his bail conditions and stand trial.
Federal Government arraigned Suswam and Oklobia before Justice Gabriel Kolawole last Monday on a 32-count charge following alleged embezzlement of N9.1bn SURE-P money belonging to the state.
They were granted bail on N250m bond and a surety with a landed property in Abuja. The Judge had ordered their remand in Kuje Prison until the conditions were met.
The prosecuting counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, however, said he was informed of the development of the inability of the 2nd defendant to perfect his bail conditions.
Atolagbe said the trial has been stalled for so long, saying prosecution witness was in court. Based on this, he therefore asked for a short adjournment.
Counsel to Suswam, Tawa Tawa said he was not opposed to the adjournment, adding he was aware of the situation and sought for adequate time and long adjournment to enable the 2nd defendant perfect his bail.
The Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, adjourned to September 28 for continuation of trial.
Meanwhile, the EFCC had in the charges preferred against them, in 2015, accused the two men of committing money laundering offences involving alleged diversion of a total sum of N3,111,008,018.51 belonging to the state.
The sum of N3.1bn was allegedly stolen from the proceeds of the sale of shares owned by the Benue State Government while Suswam was the Governor of the state.

Author: News Editor

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