Former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam, and his Commissioner of Finance, Omadachi Okolobia, have had their trial for alleged money laundering adjourned to today May 24, 2023. The case, being heard by Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja, involves an amended 11-count charge relating to the misappropriation of N3.1 billion.
During the proceedings, the prosecution counsel, O.A Atolagbi, represented by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, informed the court that the trial was scheduled to continue with the cross-examination of the 5th prosecution witness, PW5.
The defense team, comprising J. B. Daudu, SAN, and Paul Erokoro, SAN, appeared on behalf of the 1st and 2nd defendants, respectively. Daudu questioned the witness, Mrs. Mshelia Clara-Whyte, an investment banker from Investment Partners, about her company’s registration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). She responded that although the company was not registered with the CBN, it was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Erokoro, on the other hand, inquired whether Clara-Whyte’s firm had a practice of reporting suspicious transactions to relevant authorities. The witness stated that they were obligated by financial market regulations to report any transaction over five million naira to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the SEC, and they submitted reports every Friday. However, she mentioned that they did not report the specific transaction in question as suspicious but rather as a regular activity.
Justice Mohammed subsequently adjourned the trial to May 24, 2023, for its continuation.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alleges that Suswam and Okolobia diverted the funds, which were reportedly derived from the sale of Benue State’s shares in a company, for their personal use. The trial will continue as the court seeks to ascertain the facts surrounding the case and deliver a fair judgment.