The trial of immediate past governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam before the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, hit the rocks as the Federal Government failed to proceed with the testimony of the 4the prosecution witness.
The ex-governor and his former Finance Commissioner, Mr. Omadachi Oklobia are facing trial over alleged diversion of N3.1 billion brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commissions (EFCC).
Suswam and Omadachi Oklobia were alleged to have diverted the proceeds of the sale of shares owned by the state government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the resumed trial yesterday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi sought for an adjournment from the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed due to the inability of the 4the prosecution witness, Abubakar Umar, to communicate in English.
Earlier, Suswam’s lead counsel, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), had drawn the court’s attention to what he described as the “prosecution’s refusal to furnish the defence team with details of witnesses” that they intend to present in the suit.
Daudu (SAN) subsequently urged the court to adjourn the suit till May 4, when the court would have been adequately prepared to present an Hausa interpreter for the prosecution witness who does not speak in the language of the court.
However, the prosecution lawyer opposed Daudu’s oral application for adjourned, saying that the court had fixed yesterday and Friday for trial.
But in a bench ruling, Justice Mohammed held that the defandants’ trial was stalled due to the failure of the prosecuting court to notify the court of his witness’ inability to communicate in English, which the court would have provided an interpreter.
Consequently, the judge dismissed the prosecution’s request to adjourn the suit till Friday.
He adjourned the case till May 5 for the testimony of the 4th prosecution witness.
It would be recalled that an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Junaid Sa’id, testified at the ongoing trial of of the duo that Suswam diverted proceeds from the sale of shares owned by the Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Limited.
According to him, Suswam ordered the sale of Benue State-owned shares through Elixir Investment Partners Limited, a stock brokerage firm.
Sa’id, while being cross-examined by Suswam’s counsel, Daudu, told the court that his investigation revealed that an offence had been committed going by the way proceeds realized from the sale of the shares were managed.