• As Court Grants Him N500m Bail
The Federal Government yesterday arraigned former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, on a fresh three-count charge before the Federal High Court, Abuja. The charges bordered on illegal possession of firearms and money laundering.
The Federal Government in the charge filed on June 26, accused the former governor of illegally concealing weapons in his Mercedes Benz 550 4Matic car with Registration No: BWR 135 AH, parked at Dunes Investment and Properties Ltd in Maitama area of Abuja.The offence, the Federal Government said, was contrary to Section 3 of the Firearms Act Cap F28, Laws of Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under section 27(1)(a)(1) of the same Act.
He was also accused of converting 25 designer wrist watches worth several millions of naira being properties he allegedly derived directly from corruption and concealed in his Mercedes Benz 550 4Matic with Registration No BWR 135 AH and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same section of the Act.
Suswam however pleaded not guilty to the three-count charge read to him.The prosecution counsel, Abubakar Kayode Alilu, prayed the court for a date to commence trial. He also asked the court to order that the defendant be remanded in prison pending the hearing and determination of the charge against him.
But Suswam’s counsel, Paul Erokoro (SAN), drew attention of the court to a bail application, which he said was ripped for hearing yesterday.Moving the application, Erokoro prayed Justice Babatunde Quadri to grant Suswam bail on liberal terms, stressing that he (Suswam) is on bail in two other charges filed against him by the Federal Government. The bail application, which was based on eight grounds,18-paragraph affidavit and an exhibit to the effect that Suswam has an enlarged heart, a life threatening condition, which he said required regular medical attention and treatment. According to him, all the facts in the affidavit in support of the application for bail were unchallenged, pointing out that the defendant was a legal practitioner, a two-term governor of Benue State and had served at the House of Representatives for eight years, and will not jump bail.
The prosecution counsel, who did not oppose Suswam’s bail application, however urged the court to use its discretion in granting the bail and added that the prosecution intends to call four witnesses in the matter. Having listened to submissions of counsel on both sides, Justice Quadri admitted Suswam to bail in the sum of N500 million and one surety in like sum.
The Judge held that the surety, who must be a residence of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), should also swear to an affidavit of means and that the surety’s residential address must be verified by officials of the court. The surety, the court added must also submit one passport photograph with the court as part of the bail conditions for the former governor. The matter has been adjourned till October 24 and 25.