Nigeria: Why Court Adjourned Suswam's Trial to Feb 25

18 February 2020

Justice Okon Abang of an Abuja Federal High Court was forced to adjourned to February 25 to enable the court to receive a report on an investigation into an online publication accusing him of holding discussions with the EFCC to jail former governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam.

The trial of Suswam on charges of money laundering and breach of trust valued at N3.1 billion, alongside former Commissioner for Finance, Omodachi Okolobi was going on speedily until the allegation was made against the judge.

EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) had called the court's attention to a publication on Igbere TV, which alleged that he trailed the judge's convoy to the airport to hold discussions on the Suswam trial.

Defense lawyers, Paul Erokoro (SAN) and Chinelo Ogbozor condemned the publication and asked the court to order an inquiry into how the source of the medium's claim.

Subsequently, Justice Okon Abang ordered the Inspector General of Police, Department of State Services, and EFCC to investigate and report in 21 days on the allegations against him.

"My lords I consider this publication a serious issue of national importance therefore investigation is therefore ordered to determine the truth and the sponsors of the person that published this. The department that should handle it, it should not be fair to exclude any arm just on the ground that the counsel will be biased," he said.

Meanwhile, the prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam has recanted his earlier statement about where he delivered to the ex-governor the sums of money transferred to him.

While testifying, Abubakar Umar, a Bureau De Change operator under the business name of Fanffash Resources, said he took several tranches to the governor in his house in Maitama.

But under cross-examination by defense counsel, Chinelo Ogbozor, Umar admitted that he had earlier claimed the money was taken to the former governor at the Government House.

He, however, admitted that people close to Suswam pressured him to state that the money was taken to the Government House.

"I said I took the money to the Government House. I did not say Benue. I said it is his people that said I should say that I took it to Government House, Benue," he said.

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