Justice Mohammed disqualified himself from the matter, following Saharareporters report alleging that he collected bribe from the defendant.
Suswam, who piloted the affairs of Benue State from 2007 to 2015, is facing trial alongside his erstwhile Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Omodachi Okolobia.
The duo were alleged to have looted about N3.1billion, being proceeds of shares owned by Benue State government and Benue Investment and Property Company Ltd.
The court had earlier adjourned for the fourth prosecution witness, Mr. Abubakar Umar, to continue his evidence-in-chief. However, at the resumed sitting, Justice Mohammed said he was no longer willing to preside over the trial, in view of the publication which he said had greatly tarnished his image before the public.
He said it was better for him, in the interest of justice, to return the case-file to the Chief Judge of the High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, for it to be re-assigned to another Judge. Despite plea from both the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, and Suswam’s lawyer, Mr. J.B. Daudu, SAN, Justice Mohammed declined to proceed with the trial.
Both Jacobs and Daudu had urged him to ignore the report which they said was in bad faith. However, Justice Mohammed said the damning report placed him in-between two devils, saying wherever the pendulum of his decision swings at the end of the trial, the issue of the publication could be used to justify or rubbish his final judgment on the case.
Justice Mohammed said it was regrettable that trial Judges have in recent times become objects of attacks in the media. “It is trend these days to accuse a Judge handling a matter of all sorts of wrong doing. “The allegation is in the public domain and whatever the court does would be subject to public speculation and interpretation.