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EFCC re-arraigns former governor Suswam over alleged N3.1bn fraud

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A former governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswan and his ex-commissioner of finance in the state, Omadachi Okolobia, were on Monday, November 2, arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ex-governor and his commissioner were re-arraigned on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering.

According to reports, Suswam, who currently represents Benue North-East senatorial district, is the first defendant while Okolobia is the second defendant in the suit.

They were initially arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the high court in 2015 on a nine-count before the case was transferred to Okon Abang of the same jurisdiction.

The defendants were being prosecuted on N3.1 billion money laundering charges. The anti-graft agency had accused them of diverting the money which was said to be part of the proceeds of the sale of some shares of Benue in a company.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, November 2, EFCC’s counsel, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, told Mohammed that the agency had an amended charge dated and filed on October 15.

He said:

I humbly apply under sections 216 and 218 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015 for this honourable court to accept the amended charge and direct that the defendants take their plea on the charge subject to the convenience of the court.

The counsel to the first and the second defendants, Adedayo Adedeji and Audu Aloga respectively, did not oppose the application.

The judge then accepted the amended charge and ordered it to be read to the defendants. Premium Times reports that in the counts, Okolobia was alleged to have accepted cash payments in the sum of N128 million, N100 million, N150 million and N200 million at different occasions from one Gera James, a non-financial institution, which were said to have exceeded the threshold authorised by law and contrary to the Money Laundromat Act.

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