Alleged N29bn fraud: EFCC re-arraigns ex-governor Nyako, son

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has re-arraigned a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako‎, his son, Abdulaziz and others at the Federal High Court in Abuja.

They were re-arraigned on Thursday, March 21, on 37 counts of allegedly laundering N29 billion.

Prosecuting agency, the EFCC, said the accused allegedly committed the fraud while Nyako was governor of Adamawa State.


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Also arraigned with them were Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifik Abba.

The companies allegedly involved in the money laundering were added as fifth through ninth defendants, respectively, including Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited, and Crust Energy Limited.

The re-arraignment followed the elevation of the former trial judge, Okon Abang, to the Court of Appeal.

When the matter was mentioned in court, the prosecuting lawyer, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, informed the court that the case was being handled “de novo” (afresh) because the first two judges assigned to the case were no longer available.

“Justice Evoh Chukwu first handled the matter where we called eight witnesses before he died. It was then transferred to Justice Okon Abang, where we called 21 witnesses and closed our case.

“Unfortunately, Justice Abang was elevated to the Court of Appeal, and that is why we are before you today, my lord,” Atolagbe stated.

The trial judge, Peter Lifu, ordered that the defendants be updated on the charges so they might enter a plea.

All the defendants maintained their not guilty plea.

Counsel to the defendants, Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, pleaded with the court to grant his client’s request to continue attending trial on bail under the same terms and circumstances as were set down when the court initially accepted their plea.

“We pray the court will allow us to continue enjoying that bail, and for our part, we promise not to default even now,” Aondoakaa urged.

The judge inquired whether the sureties remained available.

The judge permitted them to continue under the same bail terms after counsel confirmed that the sureties were still available and the prosecution had not objected.

Besides, the prosecution informed the court that attempts had been made to reach a plea agreement before Abang’s elevation.

Atolagbe stated that the prosecution was prepared to listen to the defendants if they were open to considering that alternative.

But Aondoakaa clarified that given the former governor’s advanced age, the agreement was more about “settling the matter amicably” than a plea deal.

The judge then scheduled a new trial date for May 10 and 13.

The EFCC claimed that between January 2011 and December 2014, the defendants allegedly took money out of the Adamawa treasury.

According to the commission, they used businesses as covert channels to steal billions of dollars, which they transferred into personal accounts and transferred to Abuja, where they were used to construct private estates.

They were charged with 37 counts of criminal conspiracy, theft, abuse of office, and money laundering by the EFCC.






     

     

    The anti-graft agency called 21 witnesses throughout the trial to support its allegations against the defendants in its case, which started in 2015.

    Nyako, 81 years old and a retired military officer, was the governor of Adamawa State from 2007 to 2008 and from 2008 to 2014.

    The ICIR reported that the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Nyako in 2016, seeking an order from the court to reinstate him as governor of Adamawa State to enable him to complete his truncated second term.

    Nyako was removed as governor of the state on July 15, 2014, about ten months away from the expiration of his tenure.

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