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The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered an investigation into an allegation by an online publication that the court was planning to jail a former Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam.

Igberetvnews claimed that Justice Okon Abang, who is presently presiding over the trial of Mr Suswam, had prior contact with the prosecution team and some All Progressives Congress (APC) officials in respect to the case.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Mr Abang, after taking arguments from lawyers in the ongoing trial, ordered that the investigation be carried out into the allegations by the publication.

The judge asked the Inspector-General of Police, State Security Service (SSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to conduct the investigation. He gave them 21 days to submit the report of their findings.

Court session

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, the EFCC lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs, had informed the court of the publication made against the court as presently constituted, describing it as ‘scandalous’.

The lawyers to Mr Suswam, alongside that of the other defendants, Omadachi Oklobia, Chinelo Ogbozor, and Paul Erokoro also condemned the publication.

All the lawyers in the case then urged the court to order for an investigation into the matter to unravel the mystery behind the publication.

In his ruling on the matter, Mr Abang described it as “a serious issue of national importance.”

Mr Abang held that any agency of the executive arm of government that is charged with the investigation of cybercrime offenders was competent to investigate the matter.

“What the court is concerned about is the truth of this publication. The persons that published this scandalous publication,” he held.

“I hereby order that the Inspector-General of Police, Department of State Security Services, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission shall jointly carry out thorough investigation and determine the truth or otherwise of the online publication by Igbere TV News on the 2nd day of February 2020, captioned: ‘Just In- N3.1m Fraud: Justice Abang, Secretly Meets APC Stakeholders, EFCC Prosecutor To Jail Susan.’”

“They will also determine the sponsors and the persons that made the publication. These departments mentioned above shall submit their report of their findings to the registrar of this court as presently constituted and copies served the counsel representing parties within 21 days from today.

“Upon receipt of the report, the court shall make further consequential order in this matter. The prosecution shall serve the enrolled order in this matter with the copies of the publication on the IGP and DSS,” he held.

Mr Abang, then, adjourned the matter till February 10, 11 and 12, for cross-examination.

Trial

Mr Suswam and the then Commissioner for Finance in his administration, Mr Oklobia, are being prosecuted before the court on N3.1 billion money laundering charges.

They were accused by the anti-graft agency of diverting the money which was said to be part of the proceeds of the sale of some shares of Benue in a company.

Mr Suswam is presently the senator representing Benue North-east Senatorial District in the National Assembly.

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