The Department of State Security Service(DSS) has confronted a former Governor of Benue State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam with six new petitions.
The case haul against the governor has now risen to seven, following the initial investigation of the ex-governor’s link with a militia leader in the state.
Suswam, who has been finding it difficult to meet bail conditions, has, however, begged the DSS for liberal terms at least to regain freedom to prepare his defence.
But he is allowed access to his wife, Yemisi Suswam, and his counsel, Mr. J. B. Daudu (SAN), who was a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA).
The ex-governor was said to have been emotional when his wife visited him on Thursday and said: “Help me beg the DSS and others to grant me bail on liberal terms. I need bail.”
According to findings by our correspondent, Suswam has not been able to give the DSS “credible clues” which could lead to the arrest of a militia leader, Terwaze Akwazza (a.k.a Gana), who has held three local government areas captive in Benue State.
The local government areas are Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum.
Akwazza was alleged to have either relocated to some parts of Cross River State or Rivers State.
But it was learnt that while the DSS was considering bail for Suswam, the Benue State Government and others submitted six petitions against him.
Two of the petitions border on the over 240-page report of the Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry into state finances from 2007 to 2015 and the alleged misuse of a N4.5billion sourced from capital market.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The case of Suswam is complex because of the security implications of not apprehending the Benue militia leader, Terwaze Akwazza (a.k.a Gana). He has not been able to provide clues on how to get the suspect that is terrorizing state. He has consistently denied any link with the militia leader.
“While he is grappling with the security factor behind his detention, the DSS has received six new petitions against him, including allegations established against Suswam by the Justice Elizabeth Kpojime Commission of Inquiry into state finances from 2007 to 2015. The panel was set up by Governor Samuel Ortom.
“Now, the burden is on Suswam to act as fast as possible to answer all the allegations in the six new petitions. The DSS has a valid warrant from court to detain him.
“The DSS has been fair to him in custody. He is allowed unfettered access to his wife and counsel. The onus is on him to prove his innocence. As soon as he is able to respond to all the allegations and if he cooperates with the DSS to address security challenge in Benue State, he will be released. The service might also charge him to court.”
The Benue State government had referred the report of the Commission of Inquiry against Suswam and 51 others to the DSS and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation and prosecution.
The over 240-page report alleged that Suswam and many of his appointees, including civil servants, mismanaged the resources of the state.
Those blamed include Hon Solomon Wombo, Omodachi Oklobia, Emmanuel Atini, Asen Sambe, Isaiah Ipevnor, Hon Paul Biam, Aza Biam, Maria Iyortyom, Michael Oko Agbam, Miss Ajuma Olokpo and Abel Musa of GTB.
Others are Mohammed Kabir Rago, Hon. Terna Kester Ikyenge, Hon Yerfa Atoza Hindan, Terna Iyorkyaan, San Carlos Benue Farms/Barr Tyokegh, Christian Aba (aka Mad Lion), Sunday D. Umoru, Ruth Ijir, Kpaapka, Andrew Ayabam, among many others.
Some of the corporate bodies fingered in looting Benue State include: Ashitech and Ashi Foods, Carlos Benue Farms, SCAMPT Nigeria Ltd, among others.
The panel recommended that 52 individuals and 10 corporate bodies should refund over N107 billion to the coffers of the state government.
It also recommended the deeper investigation and possible refund of over N44 billion from transactions they found not in compliance with the laid down financial guidelines.
The panel said N1. 21 trillion accrued to the state from about 27 identified sources out of which N802 billion was appropriated, while N219 billion was expended but not appropriated.
The former state governor, former Commissioner of Finance, Omadachi Oklobia, former Special Adviser on Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo and two former permanent secretaries, Emmanuel Atini and Asen Sambe, Messrs Isaiah Ipevnor, a former accountant of the Bureau were alleged to have diverted local government funds amounting to N51, 559,859,968.00 into personal use.
Suswam is already facing trial before a Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged N3.1bn fraud relating to the same issue raised by the Justice Kpojime-led probe panel.