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    Judge Disqualifies Self From Ex-Gov Suswan’s Trial

    Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja on Monday disqualified himself from presiding over the trial of Gabriel Suswan, former Governor of Benue State and his finance commissioner, Okolobia Okpanachi.

    Suswan and his co-accused are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before the judge on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, abuse of office and diversion of state funds to the tune N3.1 billion.

    At the resumed trial today, Justice Mohammed drew the court’s attention to an online publication purportedly on “Sahara Reporters” last week to the effect that the first defendant (Suswan) entered a financial agreement with him in order for judgment to be delivered in his favour.

    Reacting, counsel on both sides condemned the publication describing it as unfortunate.

    Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, expressed confidence in the court to conduct the case.

    He invited the court to take cognisance of all the witnesses the prosecution had called so far and urged it to protect the dire need of the prosecution to have justice dispensed.

    In his reaction, Suswan’s counsel, Joseph Daudu, SAN, dismissed the publication with a wave of hand saying, “the court must not to be deterred by the publication. What is important is that we appear before you and are confident of what you stand for.”

    He went on to add that the court cannot be smeared by invisible press who do not have a face as it will be too traumatising to start from the beginning.

    He therefore urged the court to discountenance the publication.

    The Judge agreed that, though the matter had gone far but his honest view is to excuse himself from the case.

    “It is better for the case to be transferred to the Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge”, Justice Mohammed concluded.
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