Ex-gov Suswan
Ex-gov Suswan

An operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Junaid Sai’d yesterday told a Federal High Court in Abuja that the petition upon which the immediate past governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam was indicted for N3.1billion alleged fraud was based on an anonymous petition.
The operative, while testifying in the trial of Suswam, informed the court that till date, the petitioner could not be located and that the address provided on the petition did not exist.
Cross-examined by Suswam’s lawyer, Chief Joseph Daudu, SAN, the witness also admitted that the e-mail messages sent by EFCC to the petitioner through his e-mail address provided on the petition were not delivered because the addresses did not exist.
He told Justice Ahmed Mohammed that the EFCC attempted to invite the petitioner through the address provided on the petition for clarifications on the allegations contained in the petition but could not trace the petitioner up till now.
He said the petition which was titled: “Truth Shall Prevail Over Evil Minds” could not be linked to any person or organisation.
The EFCC had put Suswam and the former Commissioner for Finance, Okolobia Omadachi on trial on the allegation that he sold off shares belonging to Benue State Investment and Property Limited worth N9billion without the consent of the State House of Assembly and allegedly diverted the proceeds to personal use.
He is also being tried for alleged breach of trust and money laundering.
In his evidence, which lasted over three hours, the EFCC operative claimed that he was detailed to investigate the petition but however admitted that he did not visit Benue throughout his investigation.
Among others, the witness told the court that the petitioner also alleged that Suswam diverted N6billion ecological fund received from the Federal Government in the period of 8 years, N1billion from Sale/Lease from Taraku Vegetable Oil; N25billion from Local Government funds, and that he also took a loan of N12billion from the Capital Market to provide infrastructural facilities that were never executed.
The witness however said that investigation into the sale of shares had been completed by EFCC while investigations into other matters are still pending.
Attempt by Suswam’s lawyer, Joseph Daudu, SAN, to tender a Federal High Court judgment delivered in 2007 in Rivers State in which the court held that the EFCC has no power to investigate the financial activities of a state government, was turned down by Justice Mohammed on the ground that he does not need to admit the judgment before taking a judicial notice of its contents.
Both Suswam and Omadachi are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 9-count charge bordering on money laundering, abuse of office and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N3.1billion.
The offence is punishable under Section 15, sub-section 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act as amended in 2012.
At the last hearing, prosecution witness, Junaid Sa’id, an operative with the EFCC, had told the court how the commission had swung into action upon receipt of a petition against the accused persons.
Led in evidence by Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, Sa’id said: “After the commission received a petition on July 14, 2015, both the staff of Benue Investment and Properties Company (BIPC) and Elixir Investment Partners Limited were invited for interrogation. Investigation revealed that Suswam had requested that shares owned by Benue State be sold for the sum of N 10billion.
‘‘Thereafter, Elixir Investment Partners Limited was appointed as stock brokers to carry out the sale of the shares. Elixir realized over N9billion from the sale of the shares and was directed to make payment into three accounts.
“Subsequently, the sum of N1billion was directed to be paid to Benue Investment Properties Company and the balance into two separate accounts in favour of Benue State Ministry of Finance.’’
Sa’id further told the court that letters were written to Zenith Bank Plc, requesting for the mandate and account statements of Benue State Ministry of Finance and Fanffash Resources.
He revealed that over N5billion was paid into the Benue State Ministry of Finance by Elixir Investment Partners. A total of N3, 111, 8000, 18.5k was paid into Fanffash account domiciled with Zenith Bank Plc.
‘‘Also, when a letter of investigation was written to the Clerk of the House of Assembly to verify if the House, at any time, gave approval for the sale of Benue State Shares, the Clerk answered in the negative.’’
Sa’id also told the court that the owner of Fanffash Resources, Abubakar Umar, confirmed to have received the sum of N3, 111, 8000, 18.5k and converted same to the dollar equivalent, which amounted to $15.8million.

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