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Absence of witness stalls trial of ex-Adamawa governor involved in N29 billion fraud

ON Tuesday, the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja adjourned the trial of former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako for alleged money laundering to the tune of N29 billion.

The presiding judge,  O.E. Abang granted the adjournment to allow the prosecution team examine the available evidence and produce a credible witness before a subsequent hearing on the matter, which has been slated for October 29 and 30.

Nyako, who served as Adamawa State governor between 2011 to 2014 before he was impeached, is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alongside his son, Abdulaziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifik Abba on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.

At the resumed hearing, prosecution counsel, Oluwaleke Afolagbe, told the court that the prosecution needed an adjournment on the matter to be able to produce its witness.

“We still think we should put the witness in the box but the information we have is that the said witness is out of the country to the UK and that he is sick and receiving treatment.

He explained that one of the witnesses was no more in the picture because he could not be found, revealing that the prosecution has made several efforts that proved abortive.

“I apologise to the court that we are not able to produce our witness. We also apologise to the senior counsel to the defendant,” he said.

He disclosed that after the third adjournments on the matter, all efforts by the prosecution to bring the witness to the dock have been thwarted by the continued absence of the witness.

Defence counsel, Ibrahim Ishaku, opposed the application for adjournment, reminding the court that there was a pending application with respect for the release of the international passport of the defendant, which was dated September 20, 2019.

“My lord, we oppose the adjournment by the prosecution. The learned senior counsel had explained that they have two more witnesses, so if one is not present, another should be around.

“If the prosecution had witnesses, four months is enough for them to produce the witness and the liberty of the defendant is at stake. This is a criminal matter, we, therefore, oppose the application and urge the court to disapprove and adjourn the matter for us to open our defence,” Ishaku stated.

In his pronouncement, Justice Abang ordered the court’s chief registrar to release the international passport of the second defendant, Abdulaziz Nyako to enable him to travel to Ghana to see his family.

He stated that he shall return to the country on or before September 30, 2019, and that upon his return, he would deposit his international passport with the chief registrar of the court pending the conclusion of the trial.

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