The trial of former Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, was on Thursday halted following the failure of the prosecution to serve the defence with details of evidence intended to be tendered in court.
Mr. Nyako’s trial for alleged fraudulent diversion of N29 billion was earlier scheduled to continue on Thursday with the presentation of the 15th prosecution witness, Augustina Watamia.
However, after her introduction in court, the defence lawyers objected to the commencement of Mrs. Watamia’s examination on the grounds that the presentation of evidence in court by the prosecution witness would ”constitute a negation of their right to fair hearing.”
Mr. Nyako is facing trial on a 37-count charge brought against him and other defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The other defendants include Mr. Nyako’s son, Abdul-Aziz Nyako and a third defendant, Zulkifikk Abba.
They were accused of diverting the said funds, using five companies namely Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms and Extension Ltd., Pogada Fortunes Limited, Tower Asset Management Ltd and Crust Energy Limited.
Explaining the reason for their stance, on Thursday, the counsel representing Mr. Nyako, Y. C. Maikyau said although he is aware that the prosecution witness, a member of the staff of the Adamawa State government was invited to court with the use of a subpoena, his team was yet to be provided with the details of evidence intended to be provided by the witness.
Mr. Maikyau said it was imperative for the prosecution to provide his client with the information intended to be presented in court by the witness, in compliance with the constitutional provisions for a fair hearing.
Mr. Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the prosecution, the EFCC had the constitutional prerogative to receive documents from any organisation in the country, for a criminal related matter.
He added that the commission’s right to invite any person to serve as a witness in a criminal case should be considered in relation to the right of the prosecution to serve the defence with details intended to be presented in court by any witness.
Responding, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs said he did not initially provide the defence with the witness’ statement because previous court rulings had provided that subpoena witnesses may be allowed to provide evidence in court, without necessarily giving the evidence to counsel, ahead of such presentation.
He, however, added that he would provide copies of the witness’ statements to the defence lawyers.
Mr. Maikyau objected to the defence of Mr. Jacobs, noting the arguments put forward by Mr. Jacobs ”could only be viable in a civil matter.”
After listening to arguments of the lawyers, the presiding judge, Okon Abang adjourned the matter till October 26.
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