• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo


Suswam sold Benue stocks to raise N10bn fund – witness


Principal witness 1 (PW1), Junaidu Saidu, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has told a Federal high Court sitting in Abuja, before Justice Ahmed Mohammed that the former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam sold N10 billion worth of state stocks/shares to raise fund.

This testimony came to the fore Monday when he was being cross examined by the counsel to the former governor, Joseph Daudu, in a nine count charge instituted against him and the former commissioner of finance, Omodachi Okolobia by the EFCC, over offences bothering on conspiracy, theft and criminal breach of trust.

Suswam was alleged to have used his office to convert the sum of N3.1 billion to is personal use through the sale of the state stocks and shares, through Elixir Investment Limited during his eight year tenure as the governor of the state.

While being cross examined by Daudu, counsel to Suswam, Saidu affirmed the statement of one Victor Aliu, Portfolio Manager at Elixir Investment Limited, that the company had signed an agreement with the Benue State Investment and Property Limited, a proof of agreement which was tendered before the court for verification, with the PW1 affirming that those who signed the documents were neither the 1st nor 2nd accused persons.

Furthermore, he affirmed that sometime in August 2014, Elixir Investment through a board resolution of the Benue state Investment and property Limited, directed it to sale some of the state stocks/share, by divesting it to Dangote plc and other shareholdings in a bid to raise the sum of N10 billion.

A resolution which the prosecution led by Rotimi Jacobs said was contained in page 187 of its proof of evidence.

 However, when Daudu inquired if the total sum of N8, 368, 699, 932.30, paid in the lumps of N1billion to account number 0027866325 of the Guaranty Trust Bank of the Benue state ministry of finance, N2.06billion to Zenith bank account 1013677218 of the Benue State ministry of finance, project accounts and another N5.3billion to Zenith Bank account 1013852648 of the Benue state ministry of finance were carried out, the PW1 said that the instructions were executed even though he said that then total sum of N8.4billion was lesser than what was recorded.

The defense counsel went further in his cross examination by asking for the facts on the petition filed at the EFCC which led to investigation into the matter and the subsequent filing of charges at the court of law against the accused persons.