Trial of former Benue State Governor, Chief Gabriel Suswam, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, following an alleged N3.1 billion fraud was stalled yesterday at the instance of the Prosecution Counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN.
The prosecutor said he was in FCT High Court, Gudu, for another case of money laundaring against former governor of Plateau State, Senator Joshua Dariye.
The Presiding Judge, Ahmed Mohammed, in a short ruling adjourned till June 6.
At the last adjourned date, the trial ran into a hitch due to contradicting evidence from the prosecution witness.
Trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja had to be cut short by the prosecution counsel in order to save it from derailing completely.
At the resumed hearing, a prosecution witness, Mallam Abubakar Umar, had told the court how he allegedly received phone calls from Suswam in August 2014 for a business deal at his Maitama residence in Abuja.
Led in evidence by Jacobs, the witness, a bureau-de-change operator, trading under the name, Fanfash Resources Ltd. Abuja, told Justice Mohammed how N3.1 billion was paid into his company’s account in tranches by an unnamed aide of the former governor.
The witness testified that he was mandated by the unnamed aide to convert the said amount into dollars at the then exchange rate of N197 to a dollar.
The bureau-de-change operator told the court that at the end, $15.8 million was realised.
Trouble, however, started for the prosecution when the witness who had earlier in his statement to the EFCC admitted that the $15.8 million was taken to the residence of the former governor in Maitama, Abuja, made a dramatic u-turn by informing the court that the said sum was taken to the Government House in Makurdi, Benue State.
Efforts by Jacobs to rationalise the evidence of the witness were unsuccessful as Umar insisted that the money was delivered to the Government House in Benue State and not the Abuja residence of the former governor.
The witness also refused to yield to the claim of the prosecution that the money was delivered in person to Suswam.
In a bid to save the trial from being collapsed by the witness due to contradictions, Jacobs appealed to Justice Mohammed to cut the trial short and grant adjournment to enable him put his house in order.
“I want to seek adjournment of this trial, this witness is being interfered with by the opposing party. I want to put my house in order so I need an adjournment. I have the option of charging this witness to court for a criminal offence along with other accused persons, but I did not do so. But if he thinks he can do what he is doing now, I too know what to do.”
However, Counsel to Suswam, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, opposed the application for an adjournment, adding that in law what the prosecution ought to do is to treat the bureau-de-change operator as a hostile witness.