N500m Fraud: Court adjourns trial of Benue Electoral Commission Chairman, others

Justice Abdu Dogo of the Federal High Court sitting in Makurdi, Benue State, has adjourned the trial of Benue Electoral Commission Chairman, Loko Tersoo Joseph and others to 16th and 17th November, 2021.

The BESIEC officers are being prosecuted by the Makurdi Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on a 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, forgery and money laundering to the tune of N500,000,000 (Five Hundred Million Naira only).

At the resumed trial today, the defence counsel, B. A. Iorheghem asked for an adjournment on the ground that he had another matter at the Court of Appeal, adding that prosecution counsel had also not served the defendants the proof of evidence. “My lord, the issue of service of the charge on all defendants is not properly done. This morning, some of the defendants drew my attention to the proof of evidence not being served”. He confirmed to the Court that the prosecution served him a copy of the proof of evidence in open court at the last adjourned date but is yet to serve all defendants.

However, prosecution counsel, Ramiah Ikhanaede, told Court that he served the counsel representing the defendants in Court with the charge and proof of evidence at the last date being the only Counsel representing all the defendants. He said the case was for commencement of trial today and that four witnesses were in Court and he was ready to proceed.

Justice Dogo while granting the adjournment stated that, “After the submission of the counsel for the proof of evidence to be served on each of the defendants, I am constrain to give a date for the proof to be served on the defendant counsel and the application for the accelerated hearing by prosecution is also granted and I hereby give 16th and 17th November, 2021 for trial”.

The EFCC, on Tuesday June 29, 2021, arraigned the Chairman, Benue State Independent Electoral Commission (BSIEC), Loko Tersoo Joseph; the Secretary, Serki Mtomba Manaseh; the Treasurer, Akange Akula and 5 other members/Commissioners: Abe Aboyi Augustine, Donald Kertyo, Agber Aondona Emmanuel, Sunday Agbaji, and Ekoja Daniel. They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them and were admitted to bail in the sum of N10 million each with one surety in like sum.