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How Suswam pressured witness to change statement in corruption trial

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A Bureau De Change operator, Abubakar Umar, on Monday told the Federal High Court, Abuja, how former Benue State Governor, Gabriel Suswam and his defence team tried to influence him to change his statement in the ongoing trial of the ex-governor for alleged corruption.

Umar, a fourth prosecution witness had on Friday, disclosed to the court how he helped Suswam to convert a total sum of N3.1bn to dollar and delivered its equivalent sum of $15.8m cash to the ex-governor in 2014.

But the witness had contradicted himself while testifying before the judge who was formerly handling the case, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, saying in one breath that he delivered the $15.8m to the former governor in his Maitama, Abuja house, and in another breath, that he delivered it to an unnamed person in the Government House in Makurdi, the state capital.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) had declared Umar a hostile witness over his contradictory testimony.

Justice Mohammed subsequently withdrawn voluntarily from the case after two reports by Sahara Reporters accused him of taking bribe from the former governor.

The case was re-assigned to Justice Okon Abang and with the case starting afresh before the new judge last year, the EFCC reproduced Umar as a fresh witness.

The witness, who testified in Hausa which was interpreted to English by a court official, attributed his contradictory statements before Justice Mohammed to the moves made by the defence to influence him.

Umar, who said he had never been to Makurdi, or anywhere in Benue State, said he received many calls, including that of Suswam, while he was appearing before the former judge as a witness.

He said the former governor asked him to see the lead defence lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), who is a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association.

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Umar said, “That is how it is. Many people were calling me so that I would change my statement about my master, Suswam.

“Gabriel Suswam called me and he asked me that I should go to his lawyer, Mr. J. Daudu. When I reached J.B Daudu’s place, he now asked me why I wrote the statement (to the EFCC) like that.

“I told him to ask the person that sent me to him. He said I should go since I wrote a statement like that.”

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