Suswam’s Trial Continues In Abuja

SuswamThe trial of the former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam and his former Commissioner of Finance, Omodachi Okolobia, continued in Abuja on Tuesday.

A witness presented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC), Mrs Bridgid Shietu, denied knowledge of the sales of about 47 million units of shares in three tranches in 2006 by the administration of Senator George Akume.

During cross examination by the defence counsel, Mr Joseph Daudu, the witness, who was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Benue Investment and Property Company Limited, also denied knowledge of the sales of some shares belonging to the state government.

The witness denied the knowledge of another sales of about 2,764,800 units of Julius Berger shares in 2006 and another 12,358,650 units of AfriBank Nigeria PLC shares sold in the same month and the same year by Senator George Akume.

She, however, admitted receiving the sum of $2.2 million from the proceeds of the shares sold by Mr Suswam, as counterpart funding paid into the account of Samkalos Benue Farms Limited, which was a joint venture project between the Benue State Government and Samkalos Farms of Mexico.

The prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs, declined commenting on the trial while Mr Daudu restated the innocence of his client.

The case has been adjourned to March 2, 2016.

Mr Suswam and his former Commissioner of Finance are standing trial for an alleged criminal diversion of 3.1 billion Naira brought against him by the EFCC.

 

Alleged Corruption: Court Grants Suswam Bail

SuswamA Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory has granted bail to a former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, who alongside the former Commissioner of Finance in the state are standing trial for alleged mismanagement of over 3.1 billion naira belonging to Benue State.

The court granted them bail in the sum of 100 million naira each and one surety each who shall be not less than a Director, Grade Level 12 in the employment of the federal, state or local government.

Each surety shall swear an affidavit of means while the two accused persons are to submit their travel documents in the custody of the court.

Trial has been set for December 8 and 9, while bail was not opposed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Mr Suswam and his former Finance Commissioner, Mr Omodachi Okolobia, were 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 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act as amended in 2012.

EFCC Arraigns Former Benue Governor Suswam        

suswamThe arraignment of the former Benue State Governor, Mr Gabriel Suswam, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering and corruption charges has commenced at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

He was escorted into the court premises by officials of the anti-graft agency.

He is being arraigned before Justice A. R. Mohammed over a 9-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of 3.1 billion Naira.

Mr Suswam and his former Finance Commissioner, Mr Omodachi Okolobia, were 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 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act as amended in 2012.

The EFCC had questioned both men lin October but released them on administrative bail.

Days after reports that he would be arraigned by an anti-graft agency were published, the former Governor had 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.

Mr Suswam spoke about the stress in the office of a Governor and said that 24 hours in office was enough to send any public officer to jail.

Mr Suswam had also filed a suit seeking to restrain Governor Samuel Ortom and the Commission of Inquiry from investigating him but a High Court of Justice sitting in Makurdi, Benue State’s capital, has dismissed the suit.

Justice Adam Onum, in the 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.

Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has asked Suswam to make certain cash refunds of missing monies to the state government’s coffers listing 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.

Governor Suswam Denies Allegation Of Corruption

The former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam, has 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.

Addressing reporters on Sunday in the State, days after reports that he would be arraigned by an anti-graft agency were published, Mr Suswam referred to the stress in the office of a Governor and said that 24 hours in office was enough to send any public officer to jail.

Not A Saint

He further asked those calling for his prosecution to know he is also human and not a saint.

Mr Suswam made the statements at a thanksgiving service held in his honour at the Holy Ghost Catholic in Makurdi by the Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the Benue State House of Assembly.

The ceremony was held to mark his eight years in office which ended in May, 2015.

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.

He advised the current government to concentrate on delivering the promises made to the people.

Mr Suswan said that he had been given charges but that a date had not been fixed for hearing.

Suswam To Appear Before Abuja Court For Money Laundering

Gabriel Suswan former Benue GovernorThe former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam, is expected to be arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday over allegations bordering on money laundering to the tune of three billion Naira.

The anti-graft agency on Tuesday said it was set to arraign Mr Suswam before an Abuja Court on Wednesday, November 4.

A nine-count charge had been filed against the former Governor last month at a Federal High Court in Abuja

In a statement by the anti-graft spokesperson, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC alleged that Mr Suswam and his former Finance Commissioner, Omodachi Okolobia, diverted proceeds of the sale of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.

The agency said the offence levelled against the former Benue Governor was punishable under section 15 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act of 2011 as amended in 2012.

Former Benue Governor Suswam Invited By EFCC

suswamThe former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam, has been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The Spokesperson of the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwajuren, confirmed this to Channels Television.

Mr Suswam arrived at the anti-graft agency’s office in Abuja on Monday morning at about 10AM to answer questions relating to alleged corruption in Benue State when he was Governor.

Mr Suswam joined several other past state governors under investigation by the EFCC for alleged corruption during their times.

The Commissioner of Finance under Mr Suswam was said to have also visited the agency’s office on related issue a week before his former boss.

Mr Suswam served two terms from 2007 to 2015.

Suswam Blames Northern Politicians For Boko Haram

The Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, has blamed the present crop of politicians from the northern part of the country for capitalising on religious and ethnic differences to create hatred and crisis in the region.

Blaming the widespread poverty in the area on the politicians, the governor regretted that “instead of political leaders to use their positions to fight poverty and conquer infrastructural deficiencies in the country, they are using it to fight themselves and fan embers of disunity among the people.”

Governor Suswam maintained that, “If the northern leaders recognise that the energy used by the Boko Haram terrorists in killing innocent people and destroying public places could be invested in farming and other meaningful ventures, it will go a long way in reducing poverty and unemployment in the country.”

The governor made this known while delivering a paper on the theme: “Our Diversity, Our Strength” at a one-day town hall meeting organised by a coalition of civil society organisations in Kaduna on Thursday.

Mr. Suswam urged Nigerians to learn how to live peacefully, despite the religious and cultural differences of the country, adding that for the North and the country to remain as an indivisible entity, political leaders must recognise the religious and cultural diversities and the peculiar conditions under which the country exists.

According to him, the diversity in religion, language and ethnicity of the country should be seen as a source of strength and unity rather than being used as a tool for disintegration by some desperate politicians.

Also speaking at the event, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Alfa Belgore, who chaired the event said that Nigeria had the potential to be a great nation but lamented that those in authority had deviated from the original dreams of the founding fathers which centred on unity and peace.

He said that majority of the Boko Haram members that terrorising the country today were foreigners trained in neighbouring African countries and brought in to destabilise the country.

Against the backdrop of the security challenges in the country, the organisers of the meeting said the essence was to identify issues germane to the development of the nation. And to identify such issues, it was important that the issue of diversity and strength which remained a major challenge for peaceful co-existence must be discussed.

It was the belief of the governor and others at the event that waving aside ethnic and religious sentiments by politicians would strengthen a just and egalitarian society where every Nigerian would have equal opportunities irrespective of the person’s background.

 

 

Crude oil production increases to 2.7 million barrels per day-NNPC

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engineer Andrew Yakubu has revealed that crude oil production in Nigeria has risen to 2.7 million barrels per day from 2.4 Million barrels.

Engineer Yakubu made the revelation when a delegation from Benue state, led by the state Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam visited him in his office.

The GMD explained that the security measures put in place by the Federal Government in the Niger Delta region was responsible for the positive results as shown in the increased crude oil production.

He appealed to all the state governments, local governments, communities leaders and other partners to work in partnership with the corporation to safeguard the pipelines and other strategic national assets in order to reduce wastage.

The NNPC boss also expressed the corporation’s readiness to collaborate with the Benue State government to restore the NNPC depot in Makurdi, the state capital.

Governor Suswam had earlier raised his concern over the neglect of the Makurdi depot and he also declared the desire to partner with NNPC in the resuscitation and expansion of the depot.