Terseer Chogah, a witness in the alleged N9.79 billion fraud trial against the former Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam on Thursday, narrated how N450 million was withdrawn for running of the Benue Government House.
The federal government is prosecuting Mr. Suswam and two others over diversion of N9.79 billion.
Part of the diverted funds was said to be for police reform and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.
Those charged alongside Mr. Suswam in the 32-count charge are Omadachi Oklobia, his former Commissioner for Finance and Janet Aluga, former Accountant, Benue Government House.
In the charge, the trio allegedly cornered the said funds between 2012 and 2015 while Mr. Suswam was governor of the state.
Mr. Chogah, the second prosecution witness told the Federal High Court, Abuja, that as cashier of the government house, he was directed by his boss, Janet Aluga, the third defendant to collect a remittance of N450 million.
“A few days after collecting a remittance of N450 million, my boss directed that the remittance I received had been cancelled and a new one prepared.
“The new one prepared read;” Augmentation for cost of running government house,” it was the same amount and I took it to her.
“She directed that I should raise a check for N450 million in the name of Emmanuel Aorga, who was also signatory to the government house account, this was for security reasons as well as checks and balances.”
Mr. Chogah further told the court that he went to the bank together with Mr. Aorga and Mrs. Aluga to cash the cheque along with security personnel.
He, however, said that the bank didn’t have that amount of cash to pay at once so the money was paid in three tranches.
“The N450 million was paid between April 2 and April 9 and in one of the tranches, we were paid N300 million.”
According to him, each time we collected a tranche, we went straight to the government lodge at the government house where Mrs. Aluga will dismiss us, saying she was awaiting further directives.
When the prosecutor, Aminu Alilu, sought to tender some of the documents the witness had mentioned such as the payment voucher and receipt issued in respect to the N450 million, the defence raised objections.
Mr. Alilu was then asked to withdraw the documents and prayed the court for an adjournment to enable him do the needful.
Counsel to Mr. Suswam, Chinelo Ogbuzor, objected to the admissibility of the documents as evidence on the grounds that the document the witness referred to as a memo did not show who it was addressed to.
She also said that there was a purported approval for the release of the money by her client but the said approval was not attached to the documents.
She added that the document was incomplete as it had not been front-loaded to the defence and urged the court not to admit the said documents in evidence.
A. O Ochohwu and Innocent Daagba, counsel to the second and third defendants respectively also objected to the admissibility of the documents.
The judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, said that the prosecution had the right to withdraw the documents and properly bring them before the court.
He adjourned the matter until May 10 for continuation of hearing. (NAN)