A group known as Benue Watch, which is seeking arrest and probe of former Governor Gabriel Suswam, has written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), reminding it of a petition it filed earlier against the ex-governor.
In the petition release on http://benuewatch.blogspot.com.ng, the group accused the former governor of embezzlement of government funds and various financial crimes, and urged the commission to investigate thoroughly, saying it will go a long way in restoring the confidence of Benue indigenes in the anti-corruption crusade by the new leadership in Nigeria.
Read full text of the petition below:
To Whom It May Concern at EFCC:
(We sent this petition to your office on August 1, 2011, but nothing happened. This is re-submission of the petition) – Benue Watch
We write as indigenes of Benue State to draw your attention to the lack of integrity and accountability as shown in the nature of transactions the former Executive Governor, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Torwua Suswam engages in with commercial banks in Nigeria. As you are aware, the minimum wage Act was recently passed into law by the National Assembly and assented to by President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR.
Hence, all Nigerians are today witness to the current debate about the minimum wage both in the print and broadcast media. It is mostly centred on whether or not states can afford to pay. In his contribution to the debate, this is what the Governor of Benue State Rt. Hon. Dr Gabriel Suswam had to say: “The implementation of the N18, 000 new minimum wage would only be possible in Benue State only if the Federal Government would remove subsidy or review upwards the federation allocation in favour of the state. Speaking at the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship at Government House, Makurdi on July 7, 2011, Governor Suswam pointed out that it will cost the state government about N4billion to implement the policy, a situation he noted was not possible.
” But Sir, we wish to draw your attention to an issue bordering on corruption and violation of applicable federal laws. Shortly before Governor Suswam embarked on his vacation trip in July, we received information through our very reliable contacts that the Governor of Benue State authorized the withdrawal of N1billion in cash from First City Monument Bank Plc, Makurdi Branch. This is the same bank that houses one of the accounts of the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS) which is headed by Mr. Andy Ayabam who until his appointed was a staff of the Bank. As a reward, the Bank Manager and his staff who facilitated the secrecy were given N20m to share which brought about disagreements in the sharing formula and we got to hear. In the light of the above, we together do solemnly exhort you Sir, to use your good offices to cause a thorough investigation, arrest and prosecution of all individuals involved in this impunity and several others against the suffering masses of our people in Benue State to the fullest extent of the law.
Specifically, we request:
i) Probe the Branch Manager of the Bank and the N1billion withdrawal and other withdrawals made in the like form.
ii) The immediate investigation of one Mr. Barclays Msughter Nguher who uses his position at the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) to liaise with his colleagues in the Foreign Mission to assist Governor Suswam launder money.
iii) Investigate the activities and accounts of the Benue State Board of Internal Revenue Service particularly as they have claimed to be generating about N1bn monthly and the State Government on the other hand acknowledged receipt of about N350m for BIRS.
iv) Thoroughly investigate the purported lease of the BIRS office located along Gboko Road at the cost of N30m per annum at N450m for 15 years. The property in question belongs to one Chris Dura Aondo a former Commissioner for Science and Technology and now Special Adviser to Governor Suswam on Special Duties.
v) Investigation of contracts awarded without due process where huge sums of money have been purportedly paid but same projects abandoned by the contractors for non-payment.
vi) Investigate money laundering activities of Governor Suswam through Triumph Energy and Petrochemicals Limited with United Bank for Africa Plc, Ogiri Oko Road, opposite Central Bank of Nigeria, Makurdi, with account number 00520030003223. The company has as its Managing Director, Master Shima Suswam, a minor and son of Governor Gabriel Suswam where the Governor uses his passport and regular signature to operate the account as Shima Suswam. The company had requested for a working capital facility of N500, 000,000.00 (Five Hundred Million Naira only) from United Bank for Africa Plc which was approved.
Subsequently a Managers Cheque (Bank Draft) with Serial number 03958692 dated 06-08-2008 was issued for N500m in favour of Ayinteph Nigeria Limited. (Ayinteph Nigeria Limited is not incorporated by the Corporate Affairs Commission) on the instruction of Shima Suswam (The Managing Director). The said facility was collaterized with a shopping complex located at Plot 644, T.O.S Benson Crescent, Utako District, Abuja belonging to Hastopag Nigeria Limited, one of the Companies owned by Her Excellency, Arc. Yemisi Suswam, the Wife of the Executive Governor of Benue State. Hastopag Nigeria Limited with RC 375698 was incorporated on 17th December, 2000 and has the following Directors – Paul-Harris Ogbole, Grace Albert and Tor Dom.
vii) Thoroughly investigate the Bureau for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs where despite the Local Government Allocations, Local Governments in the state have not been able to pay their salaries up to date as result of arbitrary deductions by the Bureau.
viii) Investigate the N2billion Bank Guarantee obtained by the Benue State with Intercontinental Bank Plc in favour of Metropole Nigeria Ltd purportedly owned by Arch. Yemisi Suswam the wife of the Governor for the construction of the abandoned Makurdi International Market located along Makurdi Inner Road. The actual amount required then was N1.7 billion.
ix) Thoroughly investigate the N1billion revolving overdraft by the Benue State Government without the State Exco and Benue State House of Assembly approval with the United Bank for Africa Plc, Ogiri Oko Road Branch which houses the Federation Allocation Account (FAAC).
The overdraft had a 365 days clean up cycle. This will surely go a long way in restoring the sagging confidence of Benue State indigenes in their leadership and Nigerians to a large extent in the anti-corruption crusade. Your prompt action will therefore be necessary since we have it on good authority that, Governor Suswam has not been able to defend his certificate forgery at the Benue State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Makurdi and might be using this as a means of siphoning state funds in order to relocate out of Nigeria.
Many thanks .
Sincerely, Benue Watch