Prosecution Declares Witness Hostile in N3.1bn Fraud Trial Against Suswam


Alex Enumah in Abuja
A prosecution witness, Abubakar Umar, testifying in the ongoing trial of former Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam over allegations of corruption was on Wednesday declared as a ‘Hostile Witness’, by the lead counsel to the prosecution, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN).

Jacob declared Umar whom he called in to testify against Suswam and two others standing trial over alleged diversion of N3.1bn belonging to Benue State as hostile following his contradictory testimonies at the trial.
Umar is the owner of Fanffash Resources, one of the companies that allegedly converted the dollars equivalent of the sum of N3.1bn for the defendants.

At the resumed trial yesterday, Jacob told the court he has an application before the hearing could proceed.
He said the witness, Pw4, one Abubakar Umar, had testified on two previous sittings and gave evidence that after the money was transferred to his account, he converted the dollars to N3.1bn and took the money to Government House in Makurdi and gave it to government officials.
Jacobs said the witness evidence on oath contradicted the statement, the witness wrote at EFCC office which has been front loaded to the defence counsel.

According to the counsel, what the witness stated in the voluntary statement was that after the money was transferred to his account, he converted the dollars to N3.1bn and took the money to Suswam in his house in Maitama Abuja.
Jacobs submitted that the prosecution is enjoined by law not to take any further step until he cross- examine the witness to find out the reasons for departing from his extra judicial statement.

“My lord I apply to cross-examine this witness who claimed in one breath, that he went to the 1st defendant house in Maitama Abuja and gave the money to him. And he came to the witness box on oath and claimed that he took the dollars to Benue State Govt house, Makurdi and delivered the money to government official.”

Responding, counsel to the 1st defendant, led by Joseph Daudu (SAN) while stating that they do not intend to further delay proceeding, noted that the prosecution ought to put his application in writing for fairness so that he did not take them by surprise.

Daudu said the defence was ready to wave a written response.

He urged the court to consider two issues before granting the application: That the law does not permit the prosecution to cross-examine the witness but only allow him to contradict the witness whose evidence the prosecution claimed is contradictory.

Mr. Anuga Onoja, the counsel to Omodachi, adopted the submission of Daudu.

The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, however adjourned till December 11, 2017 to decide on the application.