Court arraigns Suswam’s aides for alleged N16.6b fraud
• Gets N100m bail each
Three aides of former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, were yesterday arraigned before the Federal High Court, Abuja, for allegedly defrauding the state of N16.6 billion.
The associates are his former Special Adviser on Bureau of Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo; former Permanent Secretary of the bureau, Asen Sambe and its former Director of Accounts and Finance, Isiah Ipevnor.
They were arraigned before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba on a nine-count charge bordering on fraud and money laundering.
They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Consequently, their counsel, Innocent Daagba, moved an application for their bail on the grounds that the law allows them to be bailed over the alleged offences.
Ruling on the applications, Justice Dimgba accepted that the defendants should be granted bail and thereafter admitted each of the defendants to bail in the sum of N100 million with one surety in like sum.
He stated that the sureties could either be businessmen or civil servants within the rank of Assistant Director, while one of them must own landed property in Abuja worth N400 million.
Meanwhile, the person standing surety as a civil servant must deposit copies of first letter of appointment with the court registrar.
In addition, they were to produce two recent copies of passport photographs, drivers’ licence and verifiable residential addresses, while the defendants were to deposit their international passports with the court registrar.
The judge, however, ordered that the defendants be remanded at the Suleja prison, pending the perfection of their bail conditions.
The matter was adjourned to December 18, for trial.
The Federal Government had preferred nine-count charge against the defendants after it was discovered that they allegedly diverted N16.6 billion from the state’s bank accounts dedicated for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P), as well as the Joint Allocation Account for local governments funds.
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