A former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and two of his former aides on Monday objected to a proposal by the Federal Government to transfer their trial from the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to the Makurdi Division on 32 charges of diverting the state’s N9.79bn.
The total sum of N9,791,602,453.8 allegedly diverted by the defendants between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was the governor of the state, was said to be meant for police reform and the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
The SURE-P scheme was set up by the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration following the partial removal of fuel subsidy in 2012.
Apart from Suswam who was the Governor of Benue State between 2007 and 2011, others named as defendants in the case are a former Commissioner under Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.
The prosecution alleged in the case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017 that the three defendants committed the offences between 2012 and 2015.
It accused the defendants of conspiracy, conversion of property derived directly from corruption; collaboration to conceal property derived from corruption; obtaining by false pretence and accepting cash payments exceeding the amount authorised by law.
The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, had on March 27, 2017 filed the 32 counts before the Abuja Division of the Court, but on Monday requested from the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, that the case be transferred to Makurdi Division of the court.