The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has re-arraigned a former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, alongside the then Commissioner for Finance, Omodachi Okolobia, before a Federal High Court in Abuja on charges of money laundering.
Suswam and Oklobia were re-arraigned on amended 11-count charges, bordering on theft, criminal breach of trust, the illegal award of contracts and money laundering to the tune of N3.1bn.
The laundered funds were alleged to be proceeds of the sale of the state’s shares in Benue Cement Company. But the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges, Punch reports.
The re-arraignment followed the verdict of the Court of Appeal in Abuja reverting the trial to the initial presiding judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed after Suswam had complained to the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho against the judge. The case was then reassigned to Justice Okon Abang.
The trial suffered a setback on February 6 after Justice Abang ordered the Inspector-General of Police, the Department of State Services and the EFCC to investigate an allegation by an online platform which reported that the judge and the EFCC counsel in the matter, Rotimi Jacobs, had met to perfect plans to jail Suswam.
Following the re-arraignment, Justice Mohammed adjourned the case to December 15 to enable both prosecution and defence counsel to sort out the records of court and exhibits tendered in the matter.