Alleged N3.1bn fraud: Suswam’s arrest by EFCC stalls his ongoing trial

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By Ikechukwu Nnochiri

ABUJA— Recent arrest and detention of erstwhile Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, stalled his ongoing trial before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Suswam who piloted the affairs of Benue State from 2007 to 2015,  was detained by the anti-graft agency to account for his share of the loot allegedly shared by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deizani Allison-Madueke, prior to the last Presidential election.

The ex-governor, who is already facing trial alongside his erstwhile Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Omodachi Okolobia, was released on administrative bail by the agency, Wednesday night, after he had spent about six days in detention.

At the resumed sitting on the pending case, Suswam who was present in court, told the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, that his lead counsel, Mr. J. B. Daudu, SAN, was not aware that he would be released on bail by EFCC late in the night of Wednesday.

A counsel in his defence team, Mrs. Elizabeth Ogbozor, told the court that their leader, Daudu, SAN, asked her to apply for an adjournment as he was not prepared for the trial owing to Suswam’s detention, and had scheduled himself for another matter at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

Meanwhile, EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, opposed request for the trial to be adjourned till November 23.

Meantime, after the trial was stood-down for four hours, trial Justice Mohammed said he had no optiobut to adjourn the matter.

The judge, however, warned that no one should cast aspersions or blame the court for the delay in the trial, noting that early in the year, Suswam was arrested by Department of State Service, DSS, and was detained for close to six months over  alleged illegal possession of guns.

The trial was subsequently adjourned till  November 22.

Suswam and his former Finance Commissioner were alleged to have siphoned about N3.1billion, being proceeds of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Ltd.




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