Ex-Gov Suswam’s Absence Stalls N3.1bn Fraud Trial

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The absence on May 9, 2017 of Gabriel Suswam, a former Benue State governor before a Federal High Court, Abuja, stalled his ongoing trial, as his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, told the court that he was on admission at a hospital.
“Suswam fell ill after he was released by the Department of State Services, DSS, on May 8,” Raji told Justice A.R. Mohammed, who is presiding over the nine-count charge brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against him, and his then Commissioner of Finance, Omodachi Okolobia, for allegedly diverting N3.1 billion state funds.
While presenting the medical report to the court, Raji urged the trial judge to grant an adjournment to allow his client time to recuperate so that he would be present in court for the continuation of his trial.
The prosecution, led by O.A. Atolagbe, did not oppose the application, but reminded the court that Suswam was also not in court at the last sitting of March 28, 2017.
“The learned counsel who appeared for the defendant informed his lordship that the first defendant was at the time being detained by the DSS, and he has now confirmed that he has been released,” Atolagbe said.
He further told the court that Raji only informed him of Suswam’s illness “this morning, and that he has been hospitalized”.
The trial judge who went through the said report, ordered that Suswam’s counsel furnish the prosecution with it.
After reading it, the prosecution raised no objection for an adjournment based on the content of the report, noting that Raji, being a senior counsel could not have been telling a lie about Suswam’s ill-health.
Audu Anuga, counsel to Okolobia, who unlike Suswam was present in court, also aligned himself with Raji, applying for an adjournment.
Justice Mohammed, thereafter, adjourned to June 21 and 22, 2017 “for continuation of trial”.

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Hamilton Nwosa

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