N9.8 billion SURE-P Fund Diverted by Ex-Governor Gabriel Suswam – FG

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Ex-Benue State Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam

On Monday 27 March, 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria accused an ex-Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, and two others over diversion of total sum of N9.79 billion, which was budgeted for police reform programme and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P). Under former administration of ex-President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan following the partial removal of fuel subsidy in 2012.

The SURE-P and Police Reform Programme funds were allegedly diverted by the ex-Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam between 2012 and 2015.

This alleged offence was instituted at the Federal High Court, against the ex-Governor, Mr. Gabriel Suswam,  and former Commissioner for Benue State under the Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia; and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga in the suit no. FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017 at the Abuja Judicial Division of the court.

The prosecution counsel affidavits in support of the charges signed by a counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Aminu Alilu and Kehinde Fagbemi, that the three accused/defendants committed the offences between 2012 and 2015.

That the accused persons committed conspiracy, conversion of property derived directly from corruption; collaboration to conceal property derived from corruption; obtaining by false pretences and accepting cash payments, exceeding the amount authorised by the existing law.

That the offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act.

From the charge sheet, counts one and two, states that the accused persons/defendants, between August 8 and March 15, 2015, conspired and converted the sum of N4,135,208,404.90 allegedly “derived directly from corruption”.

That the money was said to have been taken “from the Benue State SURE-P account number 0116099195, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank, into various illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money.”

That the accused persons/defendants committing similar offences by transferring the sum of N2,975,329,418.88 from SURE-P account to illegal accounts between August 8 and March 16, 2015.

That the amount amounted to a total of N7,110,537,823.78 embezzled.

The prosecution counsel, from the charge sheet it was also stated that the accused persons committed act of conspiracy, collaboration to conceal, obtaining by false pretences and conversion of a cumulative sum of N7,110,537,823.78, allegedly derived directly from corruption as well as acceptance of payments authorised by law against the defendants with respect to a cumulative sum of  N1,970,662,130.00.

That the accused persons allegedly “obtained” the money “from the Benue State Government for the benefit of yourselves and other unentitled persons” between June 27, 2014 and April 24, 2015.

Count 16 to 22 involves a cumulative sum of N450m allegedly diverted by the defendants from the Benue State Government’s account between April 2 and 8, 2015.

From count 24 to 28, the defendants were accused of diverting the sum of N45,593,500 meant for the Police Reform Programme on August 13, 2014.

Between count 29 and 32, the defendants were accused of conspiracy, conversion and obtaining by false pretences the sum of N214,809,000, belonging to Benue State Government between April 13 and 15, 2015.

Part of the charges read, “That you, Rt. Hon. Gabriel T. Suswam (m), former Governor of  Benue State of No. 1 Rio Negro Street, Maitama, Abuja; Omadachi Oklobia (m), former Commissioner for Finance of Flat 1 Block A13, Marathon Avenue, Games Village, Abuja; and Janet Aluga (f), former Accountant , Benue State Government House Administration of David Mark Extension, Agber Village, Makurdi, Benue State, between August 8, 2012 and March 16, 2015 at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did conspire among yourselves to transfer a total sum of about N4,135,208,404.90, from the Benue State SURE-P account number 0116099195, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank, into various illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money which you derived directly from corruption.

“That you, Rt. Hon. Gabriel T. Suswam (m), former Governor of  Benue State of No. 1 Rio Negro Street, Maitama, Abuja; Omadachi Oklobia (m), former Commissioner for Finance of Flat 1 Block A13, Marathon Avenue, Games Village, Abuja; and Janet Aluga (f), former Accountant , Benue State Government House Administration of David Mark Extension, Agber Village, Makurdi, Benue State, between August 8, 2012 and March 16, 2015 at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did collaborate to conceal the genuine nature and origin of a total sum of about N7,110,537,823.78 which you moved from the Benue State SURE-P account number 1013470079  and account number 0116099195, domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc and Guaranty Trust Bank respectively, into various illegal accounts being money you derived from corruption.

“That you, Rt. Hon. Gabriel T. Suswam (m), former Governor of  Benue State of No. 1 Rio Negro Street, Maitama, Abuja; Omadachi Oklobia (m), former Commissioner for Finance of Flat 1 Block A13, Marathon Avenue, Games Village, Abuja; and Janet Aluga (f), former Accountant , Benue State Government House Administration of David Mark Extension, Agber Village, Makurdi, Benue State, on or about August 14, 2014, at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, committed an offence, to wit: by false pretences and with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N45,000,000 from Police Reform Programme Skye Bank account number  1750022970, belonging to the Nigeria Police and paid into the Benue State Government House First Bank Account number 2023289293 for your own benefit.”

 

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