Alleged 3.1bn Fraud: Court Adjourns Suswam’s Trial till Jan 31

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Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, adjourned the trial of Senator James Suswam till January 31.

Justice Abang gave the ruling after the defence counsel informed the court that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s counsel, Leke Atolagbe, had just served them with the additional proof of evidence in the ongoing case.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Suswam and the then Commissioner for Finance in his administration, Omadachi Oklobia, are being prosecuted before the court on N3.1 billion money laundering charges.

They were accused by the EFCC of diverting the money which was said to be part of the proceeds of the sale of some shares of Benue State in a company.

Senator Suswam, a former governor of Benue State, presently represents Benue North-East Senatorial District.

Justice Abang had, on November 26, adjourned the trial continuation till January 30.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the 1st defendant (Suswam)’s counsel, Chinelo Ogbozor, enumerated reasons the court should adjourn the matter.

She argued that the case was presently before the Court of Appeal and that the court had reserved a judgment in the suit with number: CA/A/1007C/2019, urging the court to adjourn pending the delivery of judgment by the court.

Ogbozor also said that the prosecution counsel had just served them with about 200-page additional proof of evidence the previous day (January 29), thereby denying them of the adequate time and facility to respond to the application as provided for by Section 36(6)(b) and Item 4 of the Practice Direction of the Federal High Court.

Also speaking, the counsel to 2nd defendant, Paul Erokoro (SAN), said besides that, the EFCC lawyer served them the document the previous day, with some of the pages illegible.

However, in his argument, the prosecution counsel, Atolagbe, disagreed with the defence counsel.

In his ruling, the judge, who refused to grant Ogbozor’s request based on the Appeal Court’s trial, said the defendants’ demand could only be granted as a result of the delay by the prosecution to serve them on time.

“I think the defence has a point here,” Justice Abang held.

On the illegibility of some of the pages in the additional proof of evidence by the EFCC, the judge said it was a subjective issue and the court could not make a pronouncement on this.

Justice Abang therefore adjourned the trial continuation to give the defence adequate time and facility to study the additional proof of evidence served on them by the EFCC. (NAN)