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Thursday, 10 May 2018

N9.7bn SURE-P Fraud: Court Admits More Evidence Against Suswam, Others

N9.7bn SURE-P Fraud: Court Admits More Evidence Against Suswam, Others

Former Benue Governor, Gabriel Suswam

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Thursday admitted additional documentary evidence, which were tendered by the Federal Government in the ongoing criminal trial of former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam.

Two other defendants in the charge dated March 23rd, 2017, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja and marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, are a former Commissioner of Finance under Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, and the then Accountant, Benue state Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.

The trio were arraigned on June 19, 2017, by the Federal Government on a 32-count charge over an allegation of frittering a whooping N9,781,602,453.8, part of which was meant for Police Reform Programme, and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

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The funds were allegedly diverted between 2012 and 2015, while Suswam was the Governor of the state.

They were alleged to have conspired and transferred the sum of N9,791,602,453.8 from the Benue State Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P account with Zenith and the GT Banks into illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money.

At a resumed trial, the prosecution counsel, Aminu Akilu tendered the documentary evidence showing how the sum of N450 million was fraudulently moved from the state treasury under the guise that it would be used to complement ten months running cost for the government house.

The Federal Government, through Mr. Ochoga Peter Esuh, the second prosecution witness, tendered the documents.

Esuh was formerly a cashier at the Benue State Government House.

The documents admitted by the court were certified true copies of memo to the Executive Governor (Suswam), payment receipts, payment vouchers of the N450 million 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.

Justice Kolawole has adjourned to May 22, 2018 for the cross examination of the witness.

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 wic you moved from, 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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