SURE-P N10bn Fraud: Court Adjourns Trial of Suswam, Others Till May 10

The trial of former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam and two others for allegedly diverting about N10bn meant for the SURE-P programme of the former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, has been adjourned to May 10.
This even as a prosecution witness Chogah Tersee narrated to the court, Thursday, how the defendants withdrew N450m outside what the fund was met for.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday at a Federal High Court, Abuja, the prosecution counsel, Aminu Kayode Alilu sought to tender some documents through the second prosecution witness, Chogah Tersee, relating to the withdrawal of the said money, but was vehemently opposed by the defence counsel, who argued that the documents sought to be tendered were not front loaded in the proof of evidence as prescribed by the Evidence Act.
Among the documents, the prosecution sought to tender, was a letter of approval of the sum of N450m for ten months arrears of over head cost of the Benue State Government House.
Following objections by the defence to the admissibility of the document, Alilu prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him to the needful in the tendering of the documents.
The trial Judge, Justice Kolawole granted the prayers and adjourned till May 10, 2018 for further trial.
The witness, Tersee, had earlier said that N450m was withdrawn from SURE-P account and used for purposes not connected with SURE-P project.
Tersee, who said he is a cashier in the Benue State government house, with a schedule of duty like that of a messenger, told the court that the said money was used to pay for arrears of over head cost of the Benue State Government House.
The Federal Government is prosecuting Suswam, his Finance Commissioner, Omadachi Oklobia and Mrs. Janet Aluga, an Accountant with the Benue State Government House Administration under Suswam’s administratio.
They were, in the first charge of five counts, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/255/2015, accused of unlawfully transferring the fund from the Benue State SURE-P account numbers: 1013470079 and 0116099195 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust Banks.
In the second charge of four counts, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2016, they were accused of unlawfully taking possession of the said fund.
Suswam, Oklobia and Mrs. Aluga are, in count one of the first charge, accused of conspiring to unlawfully transfer, “N8, 315,079,692.07 from the Benue State SURE-P account numbers: 1013470079 and 0116099195 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust banks to Government House Administration accounts number: 1010658643 and 0027952907 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust bank and Ministry of Finance account number: 1013852648 domiciled in Zenith Bank, with intent to conceal the money, which you or reasonably ought to know forms part of the proceed of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud and corruption, offence contrary to Section 18 and punishable under 4ection 15 of the money laundering (prohibition) Act 2011”.
They are, in count two, accused of unlawfully transferring the amount in count one, and as such, committed an offence punishable under Section 15 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
In count three, they are said to have “unlawfully transferred N300million from the Benue State SURE-P accounts number: 1013470079 and 0116099195 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust banks to Government House Administration accounts number: 1010658643 in Zenith Bank with intent to conceal the money.”
They were, in count four, accused of transferring “N858,024,070.50 from the Benue State SURE-P accounts 1013470079 and 0116099195 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust banks to Government House Administration accounts number: 0027952907 domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank with intent to conceal the money.”
In count five, they are accused of transferring N739,811,569.60 from the Benue SURE-P accounts numbers: 1013470079 and 0116099195 domiciled in Zenith and Guaranty Trust banks to the Ministry of Finance account number: 1013852648 domiciled in Zenith Bank, “with intent to conceal the money which you withdrew in several instalments, too possession of and retained for your use, the money which you know or reasonably ought to know forms the proceed of an unlawful act.”
Suswam, Oklobia and Mrs. Aluga are, in the first count of the second charge, alleged to have, “on or about 2nd and 9th April 2015 conspired to fraudulently convert N450,000,000 belonging to the Benue State Government House Administration, which was domiciled in the United Bank of Africa. Account number: 1017348051, fund, which you know or reasonably ought to know forms part of unlawful act.”
They were, in count two alleged to have taken “possession of N10m, fund belonging to the Benue State Government House Administration, which was domiciled in the United Bank of Africa account number: 1017348051”
In count three, the defendants were said to have, “on April 7, 2015 at the United Bank of Africa, Makurdi, Benue State took possession of N80m, which was withdrawn in eight instalments of N10m each, fund belonging to the Benue State Government House Administration which was domiciled in the United Bank of Africa. Account number 1017348051.”
They were, in count four, alleged to have “on the 2nd of April 2015 at the United Bank of Africa, Makurdi, Benue State, took possession of 300million, which was withdrawn in 30 separate instalments of N10million each, fund belonging to the Benue State Government House Administration, which was domiciled in the United Bank of Africa account number: 1017348051.”

Author: News Editor

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