N9.7bn Fraud: Court Grants Suswam, 2 Others N750m Bail

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By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court sitting in  Abuja, has granted bail to former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam and two others to the tune of N750million.

The two other defendants in the case dated March 23rd, 2017, with charge number FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, are former Commissioner of Finance under Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House, Mrs. Janet Aluga.

The accused persons were arraigned yesterday by the federal government on a 32-count charge over allegation of misappropriating N9,781,602,453.8, part of which was meant for police reform programme, and Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme.

In his ruling on the bail applications filed by the defendants, the court held, “The 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants are hereby granted bail to the tune of N250million each, and one surety each in like sum”.

The sureties, according to the court must be a Director or Principal Officer not less than level 12 in local, state or federal establishment.

In a situation whereby the defendants fail to get a high ranking civil servant, Justice Kolawole ordered that persons with national honour shall suffice.

The court also ordered the defendants to surrender their international diplomatic passports to the Deputy Registrar Litigation, and in the event the passports are in custody of the Federal High Court, such shall be verified by the DCR.

Justice Kolawole added that the sureties must swear an affidavit of means in signing the bail bond, as well as produce recent passport photographs.

“Fulfillment of these bail conditions shall be verified by the DCR, and if the defendants fail to meet up with the conditions today, the defendants shall be remanded in Kuje Prison.”

Trial has been fixed for October 10, 17, and 19.

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 wic you moved from, from the Benue State SURE-P account numbers 1013470079 to an 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 commit an offence, to wit: by false pretence 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.”