The former governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswam has been accused of collecting millions of naira in cash from the ministry of finance without following due process. This was disclosed by the Government House accountant, Mrs. Janet Aluga, when she appeared before the Justice Kpojime Commission of Enquiry in Makurdi.
Aluga said that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Ruth Ijir, on April 10 called her and asked her to go and withdraw the sum of N100 million from a bank for Gov. Suswam, which she did. She was then asked to deliver the money to the former governor, who stayed in one of the governor’s lodges. According to her, the money was handed over to the governor in the presence of the cashier, Peter Ochoga and Emmanuel Aorga, now retired.
The witness explained that usually, after approval of request from the government, monies were taken to the Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration, but in this case, there was a directive from the permanent secretary to give the cash to the governor. She insisted that the money she and her team gave Suswam was not acknowledged.
Another witness, Mr. Peter Ochoga, the Government House cashier from 2009 to date, confirmed that he received N50 million from James Agera of the Ministry of Finance and another N150 million from Zenith Bank, Makurdi and gave the money to the accountant, Government House.
He said they drove to one of the governor’s lodges and the accountant, Mrs. Aluga, entered with the money and handed it over to ex-Governor Suswam.
The accountant of the Bureau of Internal Affairs from 2008 to May this year confirmed that she received N200 million from the Finance Ministry on behalf of the bureau on June 11, 2010, and handed it over to the then Permanent Secretary, Mr. Hinga Biem.
She said she did not know the purpose of the money.