The Department of State of State Services on Tuesday stalled the scheduled arraignment of a former Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, before a Federal High Court in Abuja on charges of diverting the sum of N9,791,602,453.8 belonging to the state.
The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had, on March 27, filed 32 counts against Suswam alongside a former Commissioner of Finance in Suswam’s administration, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia, and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.
The prosecution accused the defendants of diverting the sum of N9,791,602,453.8, part of which was 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 part removal of fuel subsidy in 2012.
The prosecution alleged in the charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, that the sum of N9.79bn was diverted between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was the governor of the state.
The arraignment of the defendants was stalled on Tuesday due to the failure of the DSS to produce Suswam in court.
The secret police agency has since February 25, 2017, kept the ex-governor in custody over alleged investigation into other allegations against him.
But Justice Gabriel Kolawole on Tuesday, ordered the Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, to produce Suswam in court by 11.45am on May 11.
After the case was called on Tuesday, prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, informed the judge that the police which investigated the case had granted an administrative bail to Suswam only to discover when efforts were being made to serve the defendant with the charges that the ex-governor was being detained by the DSS.
He said efforts to serve the defendant in line with section 2(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, initially failed.
He also said Suswam was later served through his counsel in compliance with section 379(3) of ACJA.
Alilu said the ex-governor was aware that he had been served through his lawyer because a letter was sent to the DSS to that effect.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )