According to reports, the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, granted bail to the former governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, and two others who were arraigned on a fresh charge of money laundering.
Suswam was arraigned on a fresh 32-count charge of fraud, alongside two others, Omadachi Oklobia, a former Finance Commissioner in the state and Jeneth Aluga, a former Accountant General of Benue, instituted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
The defendants were accused of diverting the sum of 9.79billion naira, part of which was meant for police reform programme, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme SURE-P.
They pleaded not guilty to the 32-count charges of fraud, money laundering and financial misappropriation levelled against them.
Ruling on his bail application, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, granted the defendants bail in the sum N250m each with one surety each in like sum.
Kolawole ordered that the sureties are to provide recent passports of themselves, to be identified by the Deputy Chief Registrar litigation, after which they will swear an affidavit confirming that they have met the bail conditions before the suspects can be allowed bail.
He ordered that each surety must be a director or principal officer not below level 12 in the local, state or Federal establishment and adjourned the matter till October 10, for commencement of trial.
Earlier, the prosecution counsel, Aminu Alilu, prayed the court to transfer the case to Benue State, saying that the crisis in the state had subsided.
Responding however, the counsel representing the first and second defendant, Tawo, and the lawyer for the third defendant, Innocent Daagba, objected the application saying the situation in Benue State is still quite tense.
“Peace has not returned to Benue state. We are objecting to the application. If this matter is returned to Benue State, there will be a lot of chaos. We do not want a situation where innocent blood will be spilled. It is better that the matter be heard here,” Tawo argued.
Tawo further said the first defendant as a former governor of Benue State has his followers, while the incumbent governor also has his own followers, hence the possibility of the matter degenerating was high if the case is treated in Benue State.