A Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered a probe of the authenticity of a publication by an online publication alleging that the court has resolved to imprison former Benue Governor, Gabriel Suswam at all cost.
Justice Okon Abang ruled on Wednesday that the probe will help determine the truth or otherwise of the publication, the sponsors and those who published the report.
Justice Abang ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Department of State Services (DSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to conduct the probe, gave them 21 days to submit their findings to the court.
An online platform, Igbere TV News, was said to have, on February 2 this year, published a story with a title: “N3.1m Fraud: Justice Abang secretly meets APC stakeholders, EFCC prosecutor to jail Suswam.”
Lead prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) who drew the court’s attention to the said report, added that it was alleged, in the publication that Justice Abang, himself (Jacobs) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) stakeholders had a secret meeting in Lagos on January 31 on how to jail Suswam.
Suswam and Omadachi Oklobia (a. Finance Commissioner under the ex-governor) are being prosecuted before the court on N3.1 billion money laundering charges.
They were accused by the EFCC of diverting the money which was said to be part of the proceeds of the sale of some shares of Benue State in a company.
Suswam, a senator, is presently representing Benue North-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly.
Yesterday, Jacobs drew the court’s attention to the publication, following which lawyers to the defendants, Chinelo Ogbozor (for Suswam) and Paul Erokoro, SAN (for Suswam) equally condemned the publication.
The lawyers then prayed the court to order a probe of the publication to ascertain its authenticity.
Justice Abang, in a ruling, noted that the issue about the publication is “a serious issue of national importance.”
The judge said any agency of the Executive arm of government, 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.
Abang, therefore, ordered that the IGP, DSS and EFCC should carry out a thorough investigation of the publication.
“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.
The judge subsequently adjourned till February10 for further cross examination of the 4th prosecution witness (PW4) by Erokoro.