The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has revealed how a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, paid his brother N60million monthly for a property rent, diverted N6billion ecological funds and N1billion from the sale of the state-owned oil mill.
An EFCC operative, Junaid Sa’id, testifying in the ongoing trial of Mr. Suswam and his former finance commissioner, Omodachi Okolobia, told Justice A.R. Mohammed of an Abuja Federal High Court that Mr. Suswam diverted proceeds from the sale of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
According to him, Mr. Suswam ordered the sale of Benue State-owned shares through Elixir Investment Partners Limited, a stock brokerage firm.
Mr. Sa’id, while being cross examined on Monday by Mr. Suswan’s counsel, Joseph Daudu, SAN, told the court how he found out that an offence had been committed, going by the way proceeds realized from the sale of the shares were managed.
“I can confidently say that there is an offense from where the money is laundered,” the anti-graft agency’s investigator said.
Speaking on particulars of the petition against Mr. Suswam that was tendered as a certified true copy by the EFCC, the witness gave the breakdown of the alleged diversions.
“The allegations include diversion of N6bn of Ecological funds for eight years for Benue State government; diversion of N1bn from the money realized from the sale of Taraku Vegetable Oil Company limited; diversion of N25bn from local government account; taking loans and bonds from capital market for the purpose of providing infrastructure worth N12bn; being the owner of Metropolitan Hotel which he sold it to Benue State government, taking up a property from his brother and paying N60m monthly to him as rent; selling the International Modern market without approval from the state house of Assembly; and finally, non-execution of most of the capital project earmarked,” he said.
At the resumed sitting on Tuesday, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, presented another witness, Brigid Shiedu, who is the managing director, Benue State Investment and Property Limited.
Testifying, Ms. Sheidu told the court that her duties include, among other things, coordinating the general activities of the agency and implementing decisions taken by the board of directors.
“I was invited to the Government House by Suswam who was with Okolobia, for discussion on the sale of some of Benue State shares held in trust with Benue State Investment Limited.
“Former governor Suswam directed the sale of the shares after our meeting and the former commissioner sent two account numbers to me,” Ms. Sheidu stated.
Thereafter, Justice Mohammed adjourned to February 15 for continuation of trial.
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