N3.1 bn graft: ‘I lied to court’ – FCC witness

By Our Reporter

Abubakar Umar the 4th prosecution witness for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the trial of Sen. Gabriel Suswam, the former governor of Benue State, had told a Federal High Court in Abuja that his earlier evidence were lies told by him in other to get relief from pressure put on him by unknown persons.

At the resumed trial of Sen. Suswam and a former Commissioner of Finance in the state, Omodachi Okolobia, Umar admitted before the court that he gave contradictory evidences to the court against the defendants.

It would be recalled that on the 5th of May, 2016, Umar had in his evidence before Justice A. R Mohammed, stated that sometime in 2014, he delivered the dollar equivalent of the sum of N3.1 billion in cash to officials of the Benue State Government at the Government House in Makurdi and he was not aware if the said money was handed over to Suswam.

The prosecution therefore brought an application on 31st January, 2018 to declare Umar a hostile witness because his evidences before the court amounted to ‘a summersault’, arguing that the witness had earlier informed the EFCC that he delivered the money in question, to Suswam personally at his Maitama residence in Abuja.

After Justice Mohammed had declared Umar a hostile witness, Umar informed the court on 31st January, 2018, that his understanding of Government House was wherever the governor lives and therefore, Sen. Suswam’s Abuja private residence was a Government House.

However, following a transfer of the case file from Justice Mohammed to Justice Okon Abang, Umar who again appeared as a prosecution witness, under cross-examination by Chinelo Ogbozor (counsel to Suswam), admitted that his evidence before Mohammed were a bundle of lies.

When asked by Barr. Ogbozor if he knows the identity of persons who told him to lie or their phone numbers, he answered in the negative.

Under further cross-examination Umar, who had stated in his evidence-in-chief that he converted the money from Naira to Dollars within two to three days and handed same over to Suswam, recanted and stated that it took him four days to convert the money.

Under cross-examination by Mr. Paul Erokoro (SAN) counsel to the 2nd defendant, Umar admitted that he was not a licensed BDC operator, not having obtained a BDC licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He informed the court that though he had confessed to operating an illegal BDC to the EFCC, but the commission is yet to charge him to court.

The trial was adjourned to 25th and 26th February and to the 24th and 26th March, 2020 for continuation of trial.

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