EFCC arraigns Suswam over N3.1bn fraud today
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
After several days of extended interrogations, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will today arraign the former Benue State Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, for money laundering and embezzlement.
The arraignment of Suswam, who ruled Benue State from 2007 to 2015, follows the filing of a nine-count charge largely bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion against him at the Federal High Court Abuja on October 2.
Suswam and his former finance commissioner, Omodachi Okolobia were alleged to have diverted the proceeds of the sale of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Ltd.
The offence is punishable under section 15(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 20111 as amended in 2012.
It will be recalled that in a bid to set the stage for the prosecution of Suswam, the commission grilled him and his former finance commissioner, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, for many days last month but released them on administrative bail.
The two men, it was learned from their interrogators, were shown documents relating to the alleged crimes preferred against them and they were asked to defend themselves to enable the commission to determine their culpability or otherwise.
A source in the agency confirmed, last night, that the commission was convinced that the former governor and those who aided him to lauder the funds of the state must be charged to court.
The source said: “Barring any last minute hitch, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, will formally arraign the former governor of Benue State,Gabriel Suswam before an Abuja Court tomorrow, November 4, 2014.
“The anti-graft agency had on Monday, October 2, 2015 filed a nine-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N3.1 billion at a Federal High Court, Abuja.”
While Suswam is facing the trial by the EFCC, he had successfully stopped his probe by the state governor, Samuel Ortom, by securing the order of the Benue State High Court to restrain the commission of enquiry raised by the governor from investigating his tenure.
It is not clear if Suswam will also get the same court to restrain the EFCC from proceeding with his trial.