Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday admitted former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba to bail in the sum of N350 million (Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) each.
Mr. Nyako was arraigned together with his co-accused on July 8, 2015 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29 billion (Twenty-Nine Billion Naira).
The accused persons are alleged to have, at various times between 2011 and 2013, used five companies – Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to commit the fraud.
One of the counts reads in part: “That you Murtala H. Nyako, Abdulaziz Nyako, Zulkfikik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited between January and December 2013 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did disguise the genuine origin of an aggregate sum of N6,366,280,000 (Six Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira), which sums you reasonably ought to have known to be proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit; moneys derived from the theft of Adamawa State Government’s funds.”
Another count reads: “That you Murtala H. Nyako, Abdulaziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited and Tower Assets Management Limited on or about 4th October, 2011 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did convert the sum of N20,000,000 to develop Hill View Estate, Mpape, Abuja, which sum was derived from the theft of the funds of Adamawa State Government routed through Amdak Investment Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Blue Opal Limited accounts.”
Moving the bail application, Mr. Nyako’s counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, a former Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, prayed the court to admit the accused persons to bail on liberal terms, arguing that “they are at the moment presumed innocent”.
He said: “They won’t run away because, like a goldfish, they have no hiding place. Moreover, they have been on administrative bail, which they have honoured.”
However, prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, urged the court to refuse the bail application of the accused persons. Mr. Jacobs premised his standpoint on the fact that Nyako and his son, who is a serving senator, had been declared wanted by the EFCC after they ignored the invitation of the anti-graft agency.
According to Mr. Jacob, the former governor and his son absconded and went into hiding, until after May 29, 2015.
He said: “They are not automatically entitled to bail even with their status. Moreover, we believe that they may abscond based on their past antecedent as fugitives and thus not come for trial based on the very weighty evidence brought against them.”
Mr. Jacobs said two principal witnesses in the case died mysteriously shortly after they gave statements, which indicted the accused persons in the crime.
“We believe that there is possibility for them to interfere with the case,” he added.
Justice Chukwu, in his ruling on the bail application, admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N350 million ( Three Hundred and Fifty Million Naira) each, with two sureties who must be resident in Abuja, one of whom must be a serving director in a federal government establishment.
The sureties, the judge added, must show evidence of being land owners in Abuja and must present verified tax payment documents for the past three years.
He further ruled that their international passports, along with two most recent passport photographs, be submitted to the court registrar.
Justice Chukwu, thereafter, adjourned till September 30, October 22 and 23, 2015 for hearing.