FG accuses ex-Gov Suswam, two others of diverting N9.8bn SURE-P, police funds

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The Federal Government has accused a former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and two others of diverting the sum of N9.79bn, part of which was meant for police reform programme and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

The SURE-P scheme was set up by the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration following the partial removal of fuel subsidy in 2012.

The funds were allegedly diverted between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was the governor of Benue State.

The allegations are contained in the 32 fraud and money laundering charges filed against Suswam and two others on Monday.

Others named as defendants in the charges, filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja and marked FHC/ABJ/CR/48/2017, are a former Commissioner for Benue State under the Suswam’s administration, Omadachi Oklobia; and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Mrs. Janet Aluga.

The prosecution alleged in the charges, signed by a counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, Aminu Alilu, and Kehinde Fagbemi, that the three defendants committed the offences between 2012 and 2015.

It accused the defendants of conspiracy, conversion of property derived directly from corruption; collaboration to conceal property derived from corruption; obtaining by false pretences and accepting cash payments, exceeding the amount authorised by law.

The offences were said to be contrary to and punishable under various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act.

In counts one and two, the prosecution alleged that the defendants, between August 8 and March 15, 2015, conspired and converted the sum of N4,135,208,404.90 allegedly “derived directly from corruption”.

The money was said to have been taken “from the Benue State SURE-P account number 0116099195, domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank, into various illegal accounts with the aim of concealing the money.”

The prosecution, in counts three and four, accused the defendants of committing similar offences by transferring the sum of N2,975,329,418.88 from SURE-P account to illegal accounts between August 8 and March 16, 2015.

The amount mentioned between counts one and four amounted to a total of N7,110,537,823.78.

From count five to nine, the prosecution also accused the three defendants of conspiracy, collaboration to conceal, obtaining by false pretences and conversion of a cumulative sum of N7,110,537,823.78, allegedly derived directly from corruption.

The Federal Government also levelled similar allegations as well as acceptance of payments authorised by law from counts 10 to 14 against the defendants with respect to a cumulative sum of N1,970,662,130.00.

The defendants allegedly “obtained” the money “from the Benue State Government for the benefit of yourselves and other unentitled persons” between June 27, 2014 and April 24, 2015.

Count 16 to 22 involve a cumulative sum of N450m allegedly diverted by the defendants from the Benue State Government’s account between April 2 and 8, 2015.

From count 24 to 28, the defendants were accused of diverting the sum of N45,593,500 meant for the Police Reform Programme on August 13, 2014.

Between count 29 and 32, the defendants were accused of conspiracy, conversion and obtaining by false pretences the sum of N214,809,000, belonging to Benue State Government between April 13 and 15, 2015.

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