The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, ordered the remand of a former aide to the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and two others in a Suleja Prison, for diverting N16.6bn, which belonged to the state.
The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, which filed nine counts charge against the defendants, alleged that the defendants diverted money meant for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme and the Joint Allocation Account for Local Government funds in Benue State. The crime was allegedly committed between 2011 and 2015. The suspects however pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Solomon Wombo, the first defendant, was a former special adviser to Suswan on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs. He also was the chairman, Joint Allocation Account for Local Government Committee in the state at the time.
The second defendant, Asen Sambe, is a former permanent secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary. He also served the Suswam’s government as secretary to the Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee.
Isiah Ipevnor, the third defendant, is a former Director of Accounts and Finance in the state’s Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary.
Aminu Alilu, the lead prosecuting counsel, urged the court to remand the defendants in prison pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications and their trial. He admitted their offences were bailable.
Justice Dimgba directed both the prosecution and the defence teams, led by Innocent Daa’gba, to agree on the terms and conditions of the bail conditions. The counsels presented the agreed conditions, but made the number of sureties to be each of defendants has to produce to two.
Mopre so, each of the sureties must have a house in Abuja worth the N100m bail sum, and one must be a civil servant not lower than the position of an assistant director in any state or federal ministry or other government establishments. The other surety for each defendant must be a private businessman or woman with landed property in the municipal area of Abuja that is worth the bail sum.
The defendants are also to deposit their passports with the court, and be remanded in police custody pending the fulfillment of their bail conditions.