Alleged 3.1bn Naira Fraud: Court Grants Suswam’s Request To Travel Abroad

SuswamA 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.

Trial Of Former Pension Officials Stalled As Former Attorney-General Takes Over Case

The trial of former police pension officials scheduled to commence on Monday was stalled following an application by former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), who was recently briefed by one of the defendants.

Agabi pleaded with the court to allow him more time to “familiarise himself with the huge volume of court processes relating to the matter” to enable him defend his client in the case.

The prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacob told the court that he is ready to proceed with the trial but however conceded that the former Attorney General’s application was constitutional as the constitution guarantees an accused person proper representation in line with right to fair  hearing.

He however expressed regrets that the defendants waited until recently to brief its counsel rather than utilize the long period between the last date that they were in court.

He also expressed his belief that such antics would not be allowed to be used to truncate the trial, warning that the nation eagerly awaits the speedy determination of the matter.

Other lawyers in the matter also conceded to an adjournment in line with Chief Agabi’s application noting that the Senior Advocate of Nigeria has a duty to defend his client adequately and needed to be allowed to familiarise himself with the processes relating to the trial.

The former public officials were re-arraigned before Justice Hussain Baba of Abuja High Court on an amended 20 count charge of criminal breach of trust and conspiracy involving the sum of N39.8 billion.

The defendants are Mr. Essai Dangabar, Atiku Abubakar Kigo, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Mrs Cyril Attange, Mrs Veronica Uloma Onyegbula, Sani Habila Zira and Christian Madubuike.

Police Pension Scam: Yusuf Challenges Right Of Court To Try Him

The re-trial of Mr John Yakubu Yusuf , a former deputy director  in the Police Pension Office , who is standing trial for a four count charge of false declaration of assets, has been stalled following an application by the defendant, alleging double jeopardy and challenging the jurisdiction of the court to try him.

A Federal Capital Territory High court in Abuja had in January, sentenced Mr Yusuf to six years imprisonment or the option of N750, 000.00 fine for criminal conversion of N23.3 billion police pension fund for personal use.

At the resumed hearing for the prosecution witness on Monday, counsel to Mr Yusuf told the court that his application touches on the jurisdiction of the court and that it is a threshold issue in the suit which its determination and disposal will stir the ship of the court whether to proceed or discontinue trial.

With the new application, the court had to pause and determine the application before continuing with the case.

This position did not go down well with the prosecuting counsel; Mr Rotimi Jacob, who said that the application is an attempt to slow down the case.

He urged the court to refuse the application so that the witness can go on and conclude his testimony.

The trial judge; Justice Adamu Bello, however disagreed with the prosecution.

According to him, having looked at the application it touches on the jurisdiction of the court which is a fundamental issue that must be settled before trial can commence.

Justice Bello went on to give seven days to the prosecution to reply the motion and serve same.

The case has been adjourned to the 16th of May for all parties to adopt their briefs.

According to court documents, Mr Yusuf is charged for failing to declare in his asset form as a civil servant, his interest in SY-Global Services Limited, a company solely owned by him and members of his family.

The second charge accused him of not declaring the sum of N250million lodged in a fixed deposit in the name of the said company with a commercial bank.

He is also accused of failing to declare another N10million lodge in a separate commercial bank in the name of the said company.

According to the fourth charge, Mr Yusuf used a surrogate, one Mr Danjuma Gele to also fix the sum of N25million in a fixed deposit account.

Yusuf, who was last tried alongside a former Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Head of Service, Abubakar Kigo and four others, including Sani Habila Zira, Esai Dangabar, Ahmed Inuwa Wada, Veronica Ulonma Onyegbula, was charged with criminal breach of trust by public officers.

They are alleged to have stolen the sum of N3.8 billion pension funds; an offence contrary to Sections 37and 315 of the Penal Code Act, Laws of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Nigeria, 2007.