The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has given a detailed account of how former Governor of Benue State, Mr Gabriel Suswam and his Finance Commissioner, Mr. Omadachi Okolobia allegedly diverted over 3.1 billion naira belonging to Benue State government.
At the resumed trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja, a detective with the EFCC, Mr. Junaidu Sa’id, told the court that investigation by his team revealed that ex-Governor Suswam instructed that shares owned by the Benue State Government in the Benue Investment and Property Company be sold off for the sum of N10 billion.
Upon the order, the witness said that Elixir Investment Partners was appointed as stockbrokers to carry out the sales of the shares, during which over N9 billion was realized.
Elixir Investment Partners, the witness said, was thereafter instructed to pay the N9 billion into three different bank accounts of the State Ministry of Finance.
He said N5 billion was paid into the account of Benue State Ministry of Finance by Elixir Investment Partners, while a total sum of N3.1 billion was paid into Fanffash Resources account.
The witness said that the owner of Fanfash Resources, Abubakar Umar, was invited by the EFCC, who confirmed that he received N3.1 billion in his company account and converted same to dollar equivalent, amounting to $15.8 million and that he delivered same in cash to former Governor Suswam at his Maitama Residence in Abuja.
He told the court that the Finance Commissioner confirmed issuing directives for the payments to be made to Fanffash Resources and Benue State Ministry of Finance.
The court adjourned till January 18 and 19, 2016 for cross examination of the witness and continuation of hearing.
In a similar vein, Josehus Achiaku, a witness at the Benue State Commission of Inquiry sitting in Makurdi, has revealed how the ex-governor purchased fake fertilisers.
Achiaku a Director of Agricultural Services in the state, told the commission he was threatened and attacked for testifying on the fake 23,400 bags of fertilisers the last administration claimed it procured in 2012.
He said Dr. Eugene Aliegba, the former Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, approved the procurement of the 23,400 bags of fertilisers against professional advice.
He said Solab Engineering Limited, the contractor that supplied the commodity, supplied three different brands of fertilisers to the ministry.
He alleged that the NPK brand, labeled “golden fertilizer,” was fake.
Achiakui said: “When the contractor supplied the first consignment, we discovered that the fertiliser was not good and told the chief store keeper not to receive the consignment.
“Shortly after, the commissioner himself came to the store and ordered that the fertiliser be received and I was redeployed to another department within the ministry.
“It is worthy to note that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, saddled with the responsibility of protecting farmers interest, later tested the fertiliser and discovered that the quality was low.”
Achiaku added that the ministry was unable to sell the fertilisers to farmers and the commissioner consequently ordered the procurement of another 1,500 metric tones to cover up the scandal.
He however pleaded with the commission to protect him and other witnesses from assailants.
Achiaku made the plea while testifying before the commission on Tuesday.
He said he received strange visitors at his residence on the evening of the last day he appeared before commission.
Governor Samuel Ortom inaugurated the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe the administration of former Governor Gabriel Suswam.
The commission, headed by Hon. Justice Elizabeth Kpojime, was mandated to look into funds and receipts that accrued to Benue State from 2007 to 2015.
It was also mandated to inquire into the sale and lease of government property from 2007 to date.
The commission was also mandated to ascertain the amount received by the government as allocation from the Federation Account, local government funds, bonds and loans, excess crude accounts, SMEs account and SURE-P funds.