FG set to rearraign Suswam, two others over alleged diversion of N9.7bn SURE-P money

FG set to rearraign Suswam, two others over alleged diversion of N9.7bn SURE-P money

From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja

Baring any last minute change of plans, a former Governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, will, on Tuesday, be arraigned before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court by the Federal Government over alleged diversion of N9.7 billion.

Already, the case has been listed on the court’s cause list for arraignment.

Suswam will be arraigned on a 32- counts fresh money laundering  charge alongside Omadachi Oklobia, his former Commissioner of Finance and Janet Aluga, former Accountant , Benue State Government House‎ Administration.

‎According to the prosecution, in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, part of the money  was meant for police reform and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

The prosecution alleged that Suswam and others cornered the said funds between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was the governor of Benue State.

Meanwhile, ‎an Abuja based legal practitioner, Mr. Igbatule Dugwer has accused  Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state of having a hand in the current predicament of his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam.

In a statement, on Monday, Dugwer said: “It is no longer news that the former Governor of Benue State Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam  has been detained by the DSS upon the active instigation of Governor Dr. Samuel Ortom on allegation of illegal possession of Arms since 25th February 2017 till date” Dugwer claimed.

He stated that Suswam’s predicament was due to the governor’s vow to ensure that the ex governor “remains behind bars until Local Government elections are concluded in Benue State in June 2017.”

However, he said “What is news is the desperation he is showing in his recent attempts to keep Rt. Hon. Suswam perpetually in detention, the legal practitioner said.

He said the governor is disturbed by his dwindling popularity and that of  the APC government in Benue state.

“He is also disturbed that the party is set to loose woefully in a free and fair election at the forth coming Local Government elections in June 2017, and is out to strangulate every perceived opposition before the Local Government elections” the statement said.

According to the fresh charge signed by a counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Aminu Alilu, and Kehinde Fagbemi, the three defendants allegedly committed the offences between 2012 and 2015.

It also accused the defendants of conspiracy, conversion of property derived directly from corruption; collaboration to conceal property derived from corruption; obtaining by false pretences and accepting cash payments, exceeding the amount authorised by law.

The offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act.

In counts one and two, the prosecution alleged that the defendants, between August 8 and March 15, 2015, conspired and converted the sum of N4,135,208,404.90 allegedly “derived directly from corruption”.

The money was said to have been taken “from the Benue State SURE-P account number 0116099195, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank, into various illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money.”

The prosecution, in counts three and four, accused the defendants of committing similar offences by transferring the sum of N2,975,329,418.88 from SURE-P account to illegal accounts between August 8 and March 16, 2015.

The amount mentioned between counts one and four amounted to a total of N7,110,537,823.78.

From count five to nine, the prosecution also accused the three defendants of conspiracy, collaboration to conceal, obtaining by false pretences and conversion of a cumulative sum of N7,110,537,823.78, allegedly derived directly from corruption.

The Federal Government also leveled similar allegations as well as acceptance of payments unauthorised by law from counts 10 to 14 against the defendants with respect to a cumulative sum of N1,970,662,130.00.

The defendants allegedly “obtained” the money “from the Benue State Government for the benefit of yourselves and other unentitled persons” between June 27, 2014 and April 24, 2015.

Part of the charges read, “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 conspire among yourselves to transfer a total sum of about N4,135,208,404.90, from the Benue State SURE-P account number 0116099195, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank, into various illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money which you derived directly from corruption.

“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 number 1013470079 and account number 0116099195, domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank respectively, into various illegal accounts being money you derived from corruption.

“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, on or about August 14, 2014, at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence, to wit: by false pretences and with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N45,000,000 from Police Reform Programme Skye Bank account number 1750022970, belonging to the Nigeria Police and paid into the Benue State Government House First Bank Account number 2023289293 for your own benefit.”

 

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