The Election Petitions Tribunal in sitting in Makurdi, Benue State has upheld the victory of Senator Gabriel Suswam in the Benue North-East senatorial district election.
The three-man panel led by Justice A. O. Odugu upheld Senator Suswam’s victory on Tuesday while ruling on the petition filed by Mimi Orubibi, challenging the election of the former governor in the February 23 polls.
It dismissed the petition of the candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) for noncompliance to section 138 of the electoral act, in the formulation of issue one.
The Tribunal also dismissed the petition for the failure of the petitioner to prove allegations of criminality in the electoral process – vote rigging and buying, polling unit by polling unit, in the formulation of issue two.
It, therefore, awarded the cost of N100,000 against the petitioner and upheld the victory of Senator Suswam who contested the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Meanwhile, counsels to Senator Suswam, Andrew Wombo, and that of Orubibi, Frank Noomor, have reacted to the ruling of the Tribunal.
They disagreed on the interpretation of Section 138 of the Electoral Act and the need to test the outcome of the judgment at the Court of Appeal.
A Federal High Court in Abuja has adjourned the trial of a former governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam.
Justice Ramat Mohammed adjourned the trial at the resumed proceedings on Tuesday due to the absence of the lead defence counsel, Joseph Daudu, who was said to be under the weather.
Mr Suswam and former commissioner of finance in the state, Okolobia Okpanachi, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on nine counts bordering on alleged diversion of N3.1 billion.
Both were alleged to have diverted proceeds of the sale of shares owned by Benue State government, as well as Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
One of the charges against them read, “That you Gabriel Torwua Suswam and Omodachi Okolobia, while being the Benue State governor and commissioner of finance of Benue State respectively between 8th August and 30th October, 2014 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court took possession of the sum of $15, 800,000 (Fifteen Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars) from Abubakra Umar of Fanffash Resources World-wide Limited, a bureau de change dealer which sum you knew to be the proceed of unlawful activity to wit: theft of the sum of N3,111,008,018.51 (Three Billion, One Hundred and Eleven Million, Eight Thousand, Eighteen Naira, Fifty-one Kobo ) which form part of the sum of N9,411,708,009.51 (Nine Billion, Four Hundred and Eleven Million, Seven Hundred and Eight Thousand, Nine Naira, Fifty One Kobo), realised from the sale of shares, owned by Benue Government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited and you thereby committed and offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
At the resumed trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court that though the matter was billed for hearing on March 26, Mr Daudu contacted him and told him that he was indisposed.
He added that the lead defence counsel asked for an adjournment, an application Jacobs told the court that he would not oppose.
A defence counsel, David Iorhemba, who held brief for Daudu also told the court that what the prosecution said was the position of the defence.
He added that due to the ill health, Daudu would be asking for a very long adjournment to enable him recover.
After listening to the counsels, Justice Mohammed adjourned till May 22 and 23, 2019 for continuation of the trial.
A former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, who was arraigned by the Federal Government has been granted bail in the sum of N500 million and one surety in like sum.
He was granted bail on Friday, after the Federal Government arraigned him on a fresh three-count charge, bordering on illegal possession of firearms and money laundering before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The trial judge Justice Babatunde Quadiri said the surety, who must be a resident of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), should also swear to an affidavit of means and that the surety’s residential address must be verified by officials of the court.
The surety, the court held must also submit one passport photograph with the court as part of the bail conditions for the former governor and adjourned the matter till October 24 and 25, 2018.
He was also accused of, converting 25 designer wrist watches worth several millions of naira being properties he derived directly from corruption and concealed in his vehicle thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 of the Money Laundering Act.
Suswam pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge when they were read to him. The prosecution counsel, Abubakar Alilu, prayed the court for a date to commence trial and that the court should order the remand of the former governor in prison pending the hearing and determination of the charge against him.
The Federal Government, in the charge filed on June 26, 2018, accused the former governor of illegally concealing weapons in his Mercedes Benz car with Registration at the Maitama, area of Abuja, an offence, the Federal Government said is contrary to Section 3 of the Firearms Act Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004.
He was arraigned two weeks after the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested him allegedly over security issues in Benue.
The Federal Government has arraigned a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, before a court in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Suswam was arraigned in court on Friday on three counts of illegal possession of firearms.
He was arraigned two weeks after the Department of State Services (DSS) arrested him allegedly over security issues in Benue.
An aide to the former governor, who confirmed the arrest to Channels Television, had claimed that the arrest was consequent to a petition by the Benue State Governor, Mr Samuel Ortom.
But the state government issued a statement through the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Terver Akase, to counter the claims.
“We wish to categorically state that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, did not write a petition which led to the arrest of former governor of the state, Gabriel Suswam,” the statement had read.
In February 2017, the DSS said it arrested Suswam after its operatives uncovered a large cache of arms and ammunition from a property allegedly linked to the former governor in Abuja.
The agency had disclosed in a statement that the arrest followed a tip-off that some incriminating items were stashed in the boots of cars parked at the property.
Items recovered by the security operatives during the raid included a glock pistol with two magazines and a total of 29 rounds of ammunition; a mini-uzi with two magazines containing 10 rounds and four rounds respectively; 42 extra rounds of ammunition contained in a pack, and one Ak-47.
The Department of State Services (DSS) has arrested former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam.
The arrest was made after the Service said it uncovered a large cache of arms and ammunition from a property allegedly belonging to the former governor at number 44 Aguiyi Ironsi Way, Maitama-Abuja.
According to a statement by the DSS spokesman, Tony Opuiyo, the operation was informed by intelligence that some incriminating items were stashed in the boots of cars parked at the property.
The DSS said after carrying out a raid on the property in the presence of two private security officers employed by the company, the following items were recovered:
A glock pistol with two magazines and a total of 29 rounds of ammunition;
A mini-uzi with two magazines containing 10 rounds and four rounds respectively;
Forty-two extra rounds of ammunition contained in a pack and one Ak-47.
The search also revealed:
Twenty-one Certificates of Occupancy and one Offer of Statutory Right of Occupancy;
Twenty-three luxury designer watches; and
Forty-five keys to various exotic cars.
The DSS warned politicians to desist from making inciting comments that may heat up the system.
“It is in the light of this latest development that the Service wishes to sound a note of warning to persons and groups that it will no longer tolerate any acts of lawlessness by those who ought to be law abiding and responsible citizens.
“The Service has also observed with total dismay, the inciting utterances of some political actors whose activities heat-up the polity.
“It also wishes to express its disappointment with these politicians who in their desperation, are engaged in hate speeches and sponsor of radio campaign jingles when the electoral umpire has not authorised such campaigns in line with the Electoral Act.
“More worrisome is the unpatriotic involvement of some media outfits in these divisive tendencies which negate their constitutional role as the fourth estate of the realm.
“In line with its statutory mandate of maintaining the peace and internal security of the country, the Service hereby restates its commitment to go after anyone no matter how highly placed. who engages in acts capable of causing the breach of peace in the country,” the statement read.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted the request of the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, seeking the release of his international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical check-up.
Justice Ahmed Muhammed while granting the request on Tuesday, also ordered Suswam to return to Nigeria before the next adjourned date to make himself available for his trial.
The judge granted the request after counsel to the former Governor of Benue State, Mr Joseph Daudu, through a motion he filed on January 14, prayed the court to release Suswam’s international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical check-up.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacob, who raised no objection to the motion, prayed the court to grant the request during the holiday period so that the former Governor of Benue State could return on time to face his trial.
Mr Suswam and his former Commissioner of Finance are alleged to have diverted the proceeds of the sale of shares owned by the Benue State Government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
The offence is punishable under section 15, subsection three of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
The trial of the former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, in the case of alleged criminal diversion of 3.1 billion Naira brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been adjourned till February 15.
During Monday’s hearing, some documents were tendered by the EFCC before the court presided over by Justice Ahmed Mohammed as exhibits.
They were presented through a prosecution witness, Mrs Bridgid Shietu, who is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer the Benue Investment and Property Company Limited (BIPCL).
Also standing trial is the former Governor’s Commissioner for Finance, Mr Omadachi Okolobia.
The documents tendered as exhibit through the witness include a letter written by the EFCC to the Corporate Affairs Commission, requesting for the certificate of incorporation of the BIPCL.
She told the court that the former Governor gave the approval for the sales of the shares in some blue chip companies belonging to the Benue State government.
When asked whether she was aware that one of the accounts in which the proceeds of some of the share were credited did not belong to the Benue State government, the witness said no.
She explained that one of the accounts was owned by a private company, but stressed that the account numbers were giving to her by the Commissioner for Finance via the ministry’s letter headed paper.
Mrs Sheitu had earlier told the court that the shares in various stock brokerage firms were sold through a private firm, Elixir Nigeria Limited, for about nine billion Naira on the final directive of the former Governor, when the state witnessed financial down-turn.
After the witness gave her testimony, Justice Mohammed adjourned the case to Tuesday, February 15, to enable the defence counsel cross-examine the witness.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has given a detailed account of how former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam and his Finance Commissioner, Mr. Omadachi Okolobia allegedly diverted over 3.1 billion naira belonging to Benue State government.
At the resumed trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja, a detective with the EFCC, Mr. Junaidu Sa’id, told the court that investigation by his team revealed that ex-Governor Suswam instructed that shares owned by the Benue State Government in the Benue Investment and Property Company be sold off for the sum of N10 billion.
Upon the order, the witness said that Elixir Investment Partners was appointed as stockbrokers to carry out the sales of the shares, during which over N9 billion was realized.
Elixir Investment Partners, the witness said, was thereafter instructed to pay the N9 billion into three different bank accounts of the State Ministry of Finance.
He said N5 billion was paid into the account of Benue State Ministry of Finance by Elixir Investment Partners, while a total sum of N3.1 billion was paid into Fanffash Resources account.
The witness said that the owner of Fanfash Resources, Abubakar Umar, was invited by the EFCC, who confirmed that he received N3.1 billion in his company account and converted same to dollar equivalent, amounting to $15.8 million and that he delivered same in cash to former Governor Suswam at his Maitama Residence in Abuja.
He told the court that the Finance Commissioner confirmed issuing directives for the payments to be made to Fanffash Resources and Benue State Ministry of Finance.
The court adjourned till January 18 and 19, 2016 for cross examination of the witness and continuation of hearing.
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State is asking former governor, Gabriel Suswam to make certain cash refunds of missing monies to the state government’s coffers.
Mr Ortom’s request followed a High Court ruling on Monday dismissing the suit filed by former governor ,Gabriel Suswam, challenging the decision of the Benue State Government to probe him.
Governor Ortom listed receipts from the sale of government shares at the Dangote Cement Company and that of Julius Berger which were not reflected in the state’s income and expenditure records.
Mr Suswam had at a thanksgiving service held in his honour on Sunday, denied allegation of corruption against him, saying it is a politically motivated effort to demonise his time in office as the Governor of the state.
The embattled former Governor also spoke on his preparedness to answer to the corruption charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but regretted the misleading information carried by the media about his purported arraignment.
“It is for the people of Benue state to judge. It is not for us to play politics with it. There were lots of milestone that we achieved in the last eight years under my leadership. I believe that the people know it.
“What the political elite in the opposition are trying to do does not reflect what is on ground. But if you go across the entire state, my footprints are all there. It is not something that is in doubt by anybody.
“Forget about the politics of trying to make me become a project,” the former Governor told Channels Television’s reporter.
A High Court of Justice sitting in Makurdi, Benue State’s capital, has dismissed a suit filed by former Governor Gabriel Suswam, seeking to restrain Governor Samuel Ortom and the Commission of Inquiry from investigating him.
Justice Adam Onum, in a ruling on Monday, said that Governor Ortom had the power to constitute the panel of inquiry to gather information regarding affairs of the Suswam administration, to enable him carry out his statutory responsibilities as governor.
The court, however, cautioned that the Commission of Inquiry lacked the power to summarily issue arrest warrant against Mr Suswam, but could invite him to appear before it to answer questions regarding the criminal breach of trust.
He also vacated earlier order restraining the Commission from further sittings.
The ruling, therefore, cleared the path for Governor Ortom’s panel of inquiry to continue its investigation into financial receipt during the Suswam’s administration between 2007-2015 as part of his vow to fully probe Mr Suswam.
However, Counsel to Mr Suswam and the state government spoke with Channels Television on the legal options available to address the issue of probe in the state.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom had asked the former Governor to make some cash refunds of missing monies back to the state government’s coffers.