The money was allegedly diverted from Benue State’s bank accounts for the SURE-P and the JAA for Local Government funds.
In a report by Punch, the Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), revealed how the Benue State’s N16.6bn was allegedly diverted fraudulently by ex-Special Adviser to Suswam on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo and two others.
Wombo, who also doubled as the Chairman, Joint Allocation Account for Local Government Committee in the state, is joined in the suit alongside ex-Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Asen Sambe and Director of Accounts and Finance in the state’s Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Isiah Ipevnor.
The money was allegedly diverted from Benue State’s bank accounts for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme and the Joint Allocation Account for Local Government funds.
In an allegations contained in the nine counts of fraud and money laundering filed by the AGF through the Department of the Federal Ministry of Justice in the Federal Ministry of Justice, the case against the three suspects was filed before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on August 1, 2017 with case number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2017.
Suswam's aide and other state officials allegedly diverted the sum of N16,604,314,604.01 belonging to the 23 local government areas of Benue State between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, the day Suswam completed his second term in office.
It was also reported that out of the N16.6bn, the suspects allegedly, between June 15, 2012 and May 29, 2015, diverted N7,032,333,506.28 from the state’s ‘SURE-P Local Government component’ bank account into the account of the Benue State Local Government Joint Account with the aim of concealing the money and for their own personal benefits.
The suspects were also said to have, between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, diverted the sum of N5,342,028,098.73, paid into the state Local Government Joint Account by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
They were also alleged to have, between June 15, 2012 and May 29, 2015, diverted another sum of N4,230,953,000 from the state’s Local Government Joint Account into the Benue State Association of Local Government of Nigeria “with the aim of concealing the money being property derived directly from corruption”.
Others named as defendants in the charges filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja are ex-commissioner, Omadachi Oklobia, and the then Accountant, Benue State Government House Administration, Janet Aluga.