ABUJA, Nigeria – The fourth prosecution witness (PW4), Abubakar Umar, in the ongoing trial of former Governor of Benue State, Senator Gabriel Suswam, Monday, retracted his earlier statement and eventually confessed how the former governor used him to launder and diverted alleged N3.1b during his governorship.
Umar made the confessional statement before presiding Justice Justice Okon Abang at a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja.
He pointedly affirmed that he was under pressure to make his first statement just to favour Suswan.
DAILY POST recalls that Suswam alongside his former Commissioner of Finance, Okolobia Okpanach, are under prosecution over the allegations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The anti-graft acting spokesman, Tony Orilade in a statement explained that at today’s hearing, the PW4, a Bureau De Change operator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Fantfash Resources, Umar, told the court that some influential people have been calling on him, persuading him to change his statement against his former boss, Suswam.
Umar also told the court how Suswam even called and instructed him to meet his lawyer, J. P. Daudu (SAN), who will tell him what to do.
Umar reportedly said, “He called and told me to go and see his lawyer, J P Daudu, and when I got there, Daudu asked why did I wrote my statement the way I did. I told him to ask the person who sent me to him (Suswam). Daudu now told me to leave since it is like this”.
But EFCC affirmed, “Umar also gave account of how his account was credited with huge amount of N413 million on August 8, 2014, adding that the first money that entered his account was huge amount from Elixir Investment.
“The witness confessed that it took him about eight to 10 days to change the money from Naira to Dollars and before then, there wasn’t much money in the account.
“According to him, on September 12, 2014, another N637 million was deposited into the account of Fantfash and after one or two hours, another N363 million, was also deposited into the account. Umar said he changed the money to Dollars before taking it to the former governor, Suswam.
“He also revealed that on October 13, 2014, another N630 million was also deposited into the account of Fanffash Resources.
“Umar also told the court that on October 17, 2014, Elixir Investment again paid into Fanffash Resources, the sum of N1.68 billion which he also used to buy Dollars, adding that it took him a period of 12 days, to buy the Dollars and thereafter called his former boss, Suswam, to let him know that the Dollars were ready, before taking it to him.
“According to the PW4, he was the only person that delivered the money to Suswam adding that it was because he was the only one that the defendant gave instructions to send the money to Fantfash Resources, and exchange the money in Dollars before bringing them to him.
“The witness told the court that in all the transactions, he never visited Benue State in his life”.
While being cross-examined by the defence counsel, C O Ogbozor, about his earlier statement that he took the money to the government house in Benue State, Umar reportedly confirmed making such statement but added that he made the statement under pressure.
“Yes, I recall saying that, but I was being pressured then. But no, I didn’t take it to Benue Government House. I took it to Government House but I never mentioned Benue or anywhere”.
In his ruling, however, Justice Abang adjourned the matter to February 4 and 5, for further cross-examination and continuation of trial.