Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court in Abuja, has remanded in Suleja Prison, Niger State, a former aide of former Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and two other officials of the
state over alleged diversion of N16.6billion belonging to the state.
In the charge filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation, it was alleged in the nine counts against the defendants, that the three men diverted the sum of N16.6billion from Benue State’s bank accounts, dedicated for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme and the Joint Allocation Account for Local Government funds.
The money was allegedly diverted by the defendants between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, the day Suswam completed his second term in office.
The first defendant is a former Special Adviser to the ex-governor on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo.
Wombo doubled as the chairman, Joint Allocation Account for Local Government Committee in the state.
The second is a former permanent secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and secretary, Asen Sambe, who served as the Secretary to the Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee.
The third defendant is a former Director of Accounts and Finance in the state’s Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Isiah Ipevnor.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ordered that the three men be remanded in Suleja prison pending when they would meet the bail conditions imposed on them shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the nine counts on Monday.
After the arraignment on Monday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, urged the court to remand the defendants in prison pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications and their trial.
But noting that the alleged offences were bailable, Justice Dimgba directed both the prosecution and the defence teams to meet, agree and propose the terms and condition of the bail the court could impose on the defendants in order to save time.
After a short meeting between the prosecution, led by Alilu, and the defence team, led by Mr. Innocent Daa’gba, a set of bail conditions and terms were presented to the court.
Justice Dimgba accepted the conditions but made some alterations including the imposition of an additional surety instead of one for each of the defendants as suggested by the two parties.
The judge also imposed another condition that one of the two sureties to be presented by each of the defendants must have a house in Abuja worth the N100million bail sum to be imposed by the court.
The court granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N100million each with two sureties in like sum.
The judge ruled that one of the sureties should be a civil servant not lower than Assistant Director in any state or federal ministry or other government establishments.