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N9.7bn Alleged Fraud: Court Adjourns Trial of Ex-Governor Suswam, Others till July 4


A Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday adjourned till July 4 in the prosecution of former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam over alleged N9.7bn fraud, for continuation of trial.
The adjournment was after the evidence of the second prosecution witness, Ochoga Peter Esuh in the 32-count money laundering charge preferred against Suswam and two others.
After the evidence of the second witness, who is presently a principal accountant at the Benues state government house, the prosecution counsel, Aminu Akilu informed the court that the prosecution intends to call six more witnesses, in addition to the two it earlier called to prove the allegation of money laundering against the former Governor, his Finance Commissioner, Omadachi Oklobia and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.
The former Governor and his co-defendants are accused of diverting the sum of N9.7bn, part of which was meant for police reform programme, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P)
They were alleged to have conspired and transferred the sum of N9,791,602,453.8 from the Benue State SURE-P account with Zenith and the GT Banks into illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money.
The SURE-P programme was set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan administration following the part removal of fuel subsidy in 2012.
The money was allegedly diverted by the defendants between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam held sway as the governor of the state.
Suswam and his co-defendants however pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them
The prosecution had, at the last trial tendered documentary evidence. showing how the sum of N450m was withdrawn from the state treasury in the guise that it was for the augumetation of ten months running cost for the government house.
The documents which were tendered through the second prosecution witness, Esuh, are certified true copies of memo to the the executive Governor (Suswam), payment receipts, payment vouchers of the N450m and a letter to the Commissioner of finance, under Suswam’s administration, Omadachi Oklobia in respect of the money.
The two statements of the witness to the police were also tendered as exhibits before the court, despite the objection by the prosecution counsel.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Rt. Hon. Gabriel T. Suswam (m), former Governor of Benue State of No. 1, Rio Negro Street, Maitama, Abuja, Omadachi Oklobia (m), former Commissioner for Finance of Flat 1, Block A13, Marathon Avenue, Games Village, Abuja and Janet Aluga (f), former Accountant , Benue State Government House Administration of David Mark Extension, Agber Village Makurdi, Benue State, between August 8, 2012 and March 16, 2015 at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did collaborate to conceal the genuine nature and origin of a total sum of about N7,110,537,823.78 which you moved from the Benue State SURE-P account numbers 1013470079 anaccount number 0116099195, domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank respectively into various illegal accounts being money you derived from corruption”.

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