By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja –
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court in Abuja, has remanded in Suleja Prison, Niger State, a former aide of former Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and two other officials of the state over alleged diversion of N16.6billion belonging to the state.
In the charge filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, it was alleged in the nine counts against the defendants, that the three men diverted the sum of N16.6billion from Benue State’s bank accounts, dedicated for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme and the Joint Allocation Account for Local Government funds.
The money was allegedly diverted by the defendants between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, the day Suswam completed his second term in office.
The first defendant is a former Special Adviser to the ex-governor on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo.
Wombo doubled as the chairman, Joint Allocation Account for Local Government Committee in the state.
The second is a former permanent secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and secretary, Asen Sambe, who served as the Secretary to the Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee.
The third defendant is a former Director of Accounts and Finance in the state’s Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Isiah Ipevnor.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ordered that the three men be remanded in Suleja prison pending when they would meet the bail conditions imposed on them shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the nine counts on Monday.
After the arraignment on Monday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, urged the court to remand the defendants in prison pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications and their trial.
But noting that the alleged offences were bailable, Justice Dimgba directed both the prosecution and the defence teams to meet, agree and propose the terms and condition of the bail the court could impose on the defendants in order to save time.
After a short meeting between the prosecution, led by Alilu, and the defence team, led by Mr. Innocent Daa’gba, a set of bail conditions and terms were presented to the court.
Justice Dimgba accepted the conditions but made some alterations including the imposition of an additional surety instead of one for each of the defendants as suggested by the two parties.
The judge also imposed another condition that one of the two sureties to be presented by each of the defendants must have a house in Abuja worth the N100million bail sum to be imposed by the court.
The court granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N100million each with two sureties in like sum.
The judge ruled that one of the sureties should be a civil servant not lower than Assistant Director in any state or federal ministry or other government establishments.
Food Security: FG To Establish Additional 100, 000 Hectares Irrigated Farmland
By Patience Ivie Ihejirika, Abuja
As part of efforts to guarantee food security, economic diversification and create employment, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources has initiated the National Irrigation Development Programme aimed at establishing additional 100,000 hectares of irrigated farmland by 2020 and to realise up to 500,000 hectares by 2030.
Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, who stated this while addressing journalists on his two years achievements as a minister, said the ministry is also planning for additional 1,000,000 hectares of irrigable land to be developed by the private sector and state governments within the same period.
According to him, “Our current efforts in the ministry will enable us to deliver 23,000Ha in 2017, 42,000Ha in 2018 and 41,000Ha in 2019.”
Speaking further, Adamu said the ministry is also making progress on the World Bank assisted irrigation project; “Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING),”involving the rehabilitation/improvement of about 50,000Ha of irrigation areas in the first phase in five major schemes at Bakolori, Middle Rima Valley, Kano River, Hadejia Valley, Dakin Kowa and Guyuk.
Speaking on power, Adamu stated that the ministry’s roadmap identified dams with hydro power potential for development and there has been collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing (FMWPH) to that effect.
“We are currently making progress for the concession of the 30MW Gurara Hydropower plant which is planned to come into full operation by mid-2018. We are also progressing on our collaboration with FMWPH to concession the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydropower plant recently completed while advance discussions are ongoing with potential investors for other hydro projects including Gurara 11 (350MW), Lokoja (750MW) and Dasin Hausa (150MW).
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