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Alleged N29bn Fraud: EFCC Re-arraigns Ex-gov Nyako, Son, 2 Others‎

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on  Thursday, re-arraigned a former governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako‎, and his son, Sen. Abdulaziz in the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged N29 billion fraud.

They were re-arraigned on 37- counts of money laundering allegedly perpetrated while Nyako was governor of Adamawa.

Others arraigned with them are Zulkifik Abba and Abubakar Aliyu.

The firms allegedly used in laundering the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited were also joined as 5th to the 9th defendants respectively.

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

When the matter was called, counsel to the prosecuting agency, Mr Oluwaleke Atolagbe told the court that the matter was starting de novo (afresh) because the first two judges who were handling the matter were no longer available to handle it.

“My Lord, 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.

“The defendants, however, all appealed the case saying they had no case to answer but the Court of Appeal dismissed their appeals and asked them to return to the Federal High Court and open their defence.

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

The trial judge, Justice Peter Lifu directed that the charge be read to the defendants to enter their plea.

They all retained their not-guilty plea.

Counsel to the Nyako his son and their companies, Mr Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, prayed the court to allow his clients to continue to attend trial on bail in the same terms and conditions earlier imposed by the court when they first took their plea.

“My Lord, we have enjoyed bail from this court since July 10, 2015. Since we perfected the bail, we have never defaulted even for once.

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

Justice Lifu sought to know if the sureties were still available.

“I hope the sureties have not “japa” but are still in Nigeria, still alive and ready to continue to stand as sureties.”

Following the confirmation of counsel that the sureties were still available and since there was no objection from the prosecution, the judge allowed them to continue on the same bail conditions.

The prosecutor also brought to the attention of the court the fact that before Justice Abang was elevated,  there had been moves for a plea bargain.

He said if the defendants were still willing to explore that option, the prosecution was ready to hear them out.

Aondoakaa, however, clarified that it was not exactly a plea bargain but that it was more of “settling the matter amicably” particularly considering the age of the former governor.

“Plea bargain creates the impression of guilt. The admiral is 81 years old, he is the age mate of the likes of retired Gen. Badamosi Babangida and he cannot continue to be made to face this again,” Aondoakaa told the court.

He said the court would be duly informed if progress was made with the attempt at amicable settlement.

Justice Lifu  subsequently fixed March 10 and 13 for trial to begin afresh.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Nyako, his son and other co-defendants are being tried by the EFCC on alleged money laundering to the tune of N29 billion.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants diverted funds from the Adamawa treasury between January 2011 and December 2014.

They allegedly used companies as conduit pipes to illegally divert the funds running into billions which they converted into private accounts and moved same to Abuja where they used it to build private estates.

(NAN)

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