Absence of Lead Defence Counsel Stalls Suswam’s Trial
The trial of the former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, which resumed today, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, was adjourned to May 22, 2019 due to the absence of the lead defence counsel, J.P Daudu, SAN, who was said to be under the weather.
Suswam and Okolobia Okpanachi, former commissioner of finance in the state are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on a nine-count charge bordering on diversion of N3.1 billion before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Both are alleged to have diverted proceeds of the sale of shares, owned by Benue State Government and Benue Investment & Property Company Limited.
One of the charges against them reads, “That you Gabriel Torwua Suswam and Omodachi Okolobia, while being the Benue State governor and commissioner of finance of Benue State respectively between 8th August and 30th October, 2014 in Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court took possession of the sum of $15, 800,000 (Fifteen Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars) from Abubakra Umar of Fanffash Resources World-wide Limited, a bureau de change dealer which sum you knew to be the proceed of unlawful activity to wit: theft of the sum of N3, 111, 008,018.51 (Three Billion, One Hundred and Eleven Million, Eight Thousand, Eighteen Naira, Fifty-one Kobo ) which form part of the sum of N9,411,708,009.51 (Nine Billion, Four Hundred and Eleven Million, Seven Hundred and Eight Thousand, Nine Naira, Fifty One Kobo), realized from the sale of shares, owned by Benue Government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited and you thereby committed and offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as Amended in 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
At the resumed trial today, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN informed the court that though the matter was billed for hearing today, the lead defence counsel, Daudu, SAN, contacted him and told him that he was indisposed. He added that Mr Daudu asked for an adjournment, an application Jacobs told the court that he will not oppose.
A defense counsel, David Iorhemba, who held brief for Daudu told the court that what the prosecution said was the position of the defense, adding that due to the ill health, the lead counsel, Daudu will be asking for a very long adjournment to enable him recover.
Justice Mohammed, after listening to counsels adjourned to May 22 and 23, 2019 for continuation of the trial.