Suswam’s Trial: Witness contradicts self in court

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday, adjourned the trial of former Benue state governor, Gabriel Suswam to March 14, 2018.

At the resumption of sitting, Lead counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs during the cross-examination of the fourth prosecution witness, insisted that testimony given by the witness is contradictory to evidence he gave in an extra-judicial statement he made before the EFCC.

The witness Mr Abubakar Umar, who is a Bureau De Change operator, admitted to the court on Wednesday that he changed $15.8m for the former governor. When asked if he handed the money directly to Suswam, the witness said No. according to him (witness) he was instructed to drop the money at the government house which he did. The prosecution counsel further asked for if it was the government house in Makurdi, Benue state, Mr Umar said he was referring to the residential address of the defendant in Maitama, Abuja and that he has never been to Benue state before.

Mr Abubakar Umar stressed on the fact that he the statement tendered as evidence by the EFCC was not written by him. According to him, he gave an oral statement but Mr Umar who is his brother-in-law wrote down his statement.

Counsel to Suswam Joseph Daudu urged the court to disregard the document on the grounds that the witness statement the EFCC’s counsel Rotimi Jacobs is trying to tender to the court as an exhibit was not written by Abubakar Umar because he is not literate and does not understand English. Daudu contended that EFCC was at liberty to contradict the witness with evidence aside from his extra-judicial statement.

Mr Rotimi in his response argued that sec 230 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria stipulates two ways in which a ‘hostile’ witness can be contradicted. He said the first is by contradicting him with other evidence apart from his own, secondly, through a statement made at other times. Mr Rotimi stressed that the second is not limited to before or after his judicial statement. He also drew the attention of the court to the fact that the witness has a primary and secondary school education.

The matter has been adjourned to March 14, 2018, for ruling on whether or not the witness statement that the EFCC is seeking to tender would be admissible as evidence

Suswam is standing trial, alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Omadachi Oklobia for allegedly diverting about N3.1bn belonging to the government of Benue.

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