A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday adjourned to January 18 and 19, 2016 the trial of former Governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam and his finance commissioner, Mr. Omadachi Okolobia for alleged diversion of Benue State Government funds to the tune N3.1billion.
At the resumed trial yesterday, a detective with the EFCC, Mr. Junaidu Sa’id told a Federal High Court, Abuja that his team investigated a petition dated July 14, 2015 against Suswam and his finance commissioner.
He said investigation by his team revealed that former governor ordered that shares owned by the Benue State Government in the Benue Investment and Property Company be sold off for the sum of N10billion.
Upon the order, the witness said that Elixir Investment Partners was appointed as stockbrokers to carry out the sales of the shares, during which over N9billion was realised.
Elixir Investment Partners, the witness said was thereafter instructed to pay the N9billion into three different bank accounts of the state ministry of finance.
Another instruction was said to have been given for the payment of N1billion into Benue Investment Properties Company’s account, while the balance of N8billion was paid into two separate accounts with the name of Benue State ministry of finance.
However, when Elixir attempted to pay into the two separate accounts of Benue State ministry of finance as was directed, it was discovered that one of the accounts did not belong to Benue State ministry of finance but to one Fanffash Resources, a private company.
The EFCC operative stated further that upon this discovery, Elixir sought clarification from the then commissioner of finance (2ndAccused), who gave him the go-ahead that the payment be made in the name of Fanffash Resources.
Investigation revealed that N5billion was paid into the account of Benue State ministry of finance by Elixir Investment Partners.
He told the court that the finance commissioner confirmed issuing directives for the payments to be made to Fanffash Resources and Benue State ministry of finance.
He also confirmed to EFCC investigating team that he collected a total sum of N370 million in cash from the cashier of Benue State ministry of finance.
The court adjourned till January 18 and 19 next year for cross examination of the witness and continuation of hearing.
The EFCC had on November 10 accused Suswam of allegedly mismanaging over N3.1billion belonging to the state when he held sway as governor.
Suswam was arraigned alongside his finance commissioner, Omodachi Okolobia on a nine-count charge of money laundering.
The former governor and his commissioner who were escorted into court by officials of EFCC both pleaded not guilty to the charges when read out to them.

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