The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Monday, re-arraigned former governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako, rtd, and his son, Senator Abdulaziz, before the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged N40billion fraud.
The duo were docked on a 37-count money laundering charge alongside two others, Zulkifik Abba and Abubakar Aliyu. The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants diverted funds from the Adamawa State treasury between January 2011 and December 2014.
Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds-Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th accused persons. Though the defendants were initially docked before the court on August 7, 2015, however, their fresh plea followed the death of trial judge handling the matter, Justice Evoh Chukwu, in June.
Meanwhile, the new trial Judge, Justice Okon Abang, on Monday, allowed the defendants to go home on the same bail conditions given to them by them by late Justice Chukwu. EFCC lawyer, Mr. Adebisi Adeniyi earlier said he would not oppose the defendants’ request for bail on the previous terms, though he urged the court to compel their sureties to depose to a fresh affidavit.
In a bench ruling, Justice Abang refused EFFC’s application, saying that granting same would amount to a variation of orders the deceased judge made with respect to bail of the defendants. The court subsequently fixed November 17 and 21 to commence trial of the defendants de-novo (afresh). EFCC alleged that the defendants had in their bid to conceal the illicit origin of the stolen funds, embarked on the development of Estates in Abuja.
The commission said it was able to trace various cash lodgements that Nyako and his son made into various bank accounts they operated in the name of the companies that were indicted in the fraud. It maintained that huge sums of money which the accused persons purported to be security funds, were illegally placed under the control of one Ma’aji Iro, the then Regional Manager of Zenith Bank Plc, North East, Nigeria.
They were said to have sequentially withdrawn the funds through the bank manager and channelled same for private use, contrary to section 15 (2) (a) & (6) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act. Besides, the anti-graft agency, via a counter-affidavit that was deposed to by one of its lead Detectives, Mr.
Adekunle Christopher Odofin, told the court that both the bank manager, Iro and another of its key witness, Abdulmalik Dalhatu died under mysterious circumstances. It said that the duo were found dead shortly after they came to its office and testified against the accused former governor.