Mr Eugene Tersoo Ovorvhi-Ivasa, the former Principal Secretary to ex-governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State on Tuesday told the Federal High Court in Abuja that Suswam collected N450m cash from an accountant of Government House Benue State, Mrs. Jennet Aluga in 2015.
Mrs Aluga is the 3rd defendant in the N9.7bnSure-p fund corruption charge filed by the Nigeria Police against Suswam and his former Commissioner for finance, Omadachi Okolobia before Justice Gabriel Kolawole .
Ovorvhi-Ivasa the first prosecution witness also told the court that applied for the N450m payment as part of 10 months overhead owed the government house and he got approval from governor Suswam who authorized the payment.
He stated that while awaiting the payment he was transfered to the Head of Service and he handed over on 26th June 2015 to Dzege laanba who replaced him as the principal secretary government house.
He later learnt that the accountant Mrs Aluga had signed and collected the money. He said that when he inquired from Mrs Aluga she told him that she cashed the cheque and took the cash to Governor Suswam who collected it.
The witness disclosed these while being led in evidence by prosecution counsel Aminu Alilu before Justice Kolawole.
Orvihi-ivase, who had worked with the former governor between April 2013 and 2015 said he, as the principal secretary, government house administration wrote to the former governor, requesting the for the payment of N450 million, being owed the state government house administration for ten months.
“I seek the approval of the state governments approval, which I conveyed to the former commissioner for finance Okolobia, who approved the processing and payment of the said amount “,he said and added that when he was deployed to the state head of service,
he included in his handing cover note to the incoming permanent secretary, government house, Mr Dzege laangba that the government house administration was yet to collect the the money.
” The handing over was on June 25, 2015, several weeks later, I learnt from the perm secretary that, government house administration that the aid amount had been paid.
“I inquired from the government house accountant, who told me that she withdrew the said amount of N450m from the bank and took it to former governor Suswam “, he told the court.
While under cross examination by counsel to the Suswam and Okolobia, Joseph Daudu (SAN), the witness told the court that he worked with the Benue State government house between 2013 and 2015 and added that as the principal secretary,
administration of the state government house, which is equivalent to permanent secretary of the government house, he was the Chief accounting officer of the government House.
He said the police did not show him the original copy of his handing over note to his successor while he was being interrogated even as he disclosed that the monthly allocation to the Benue State government house stood at N48,5m when he wrote for the payment of the overhead cost been owed the government house administration.
Counsel to the third defendant, innocent Daagba declined to cross examine the witness because of the absence of some documents he needed to obtain to confront the witness with.
He said the evidence of he witness was not part of the document forwarded by the prosecution in March 2027 to the parties.
Further trial had been adjourned till October 17, 2017 for cross examination and continuation of trial .
Suswam and his co- dedendants are facing a 32-count charge for allegedly diverting the sum of N9.7bn meant for police reform and Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).
The prosecution alleged that Suswam and others cornered the said funds between 2012 and 2015 while Suswam was Benue governor.