Ill-health stalls Suswam’s trial over alleged N3.1bn fraud

Trial of a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobia, over alleged financial misappropriation before the Federal High Court in Abuja, was, on Tuesday, stalled following his ill-health.

Suswam and Oklobia were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a nine-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion.

They were alleged to have diverted proceeds of the sale of shares owned by Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited, an offence,  the anti-graft agency said, was punishable under Section 15(3) of the Mediterranean, Money (Prohibition) Act 2011

At the resumed trial on Tuesday before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, Suswam’s counsel, Ahmed Raji, told the court that his client was currently on admission in an Abuja hospital.

Raji transmitted to the court a copy of the medical report from the hospital to back up his claim.

In his submission, the prosecution counsel, Olalekan Atolagbe, raised no objection, but, however, told the court that he would need to see a copy of the medical report.

“I was informed this morning about the ill-health of the first defendant, but I am yet to see the copy of his medical report,” he told the count.

Justice Mohammed then asked counsel to the defendant to make available to the prosecution copies of the medical report.

The defendants, who were arraigned on November 10, 2015, were accused of diverting proceeds of shares, Though they pleaded not guilty to the charge, the EFCC maintained that it had enough evidence to prove that they committed an offence punishable under Section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012.

However, on February 26, the DSS raided an apartment in Abuja, which the secret police alleged belonged to the former governor, where firearms were allegedly discovered.

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