A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, which
admitted to bail a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, his son, Abdulaziz and two others standing trial for alleged N40 billion money laundering charge, has been told how key witnesses in the matter died mysteriously after volunteering evidence that indicted the accused persons.
Counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), told the court that the two of EFCC’s key witnesses against the accused persons, whom he identified as Ma’aji Mohammad Iro and Abdulmalik Dalhatu, were not involved in auto crash but just died mysteriously.
EFCC expressed fear that if Nyako and the three others were granted bail, they might use their positions to cow other witnesses from coming out and that it would have difficulty prosecuting the case.
Jacobs also argued that both the former governor and his son, a serving senator might jump bail if so granted, because the duo fled the country after they were admitted to administrative bail by the EFCC while the matter was still under investigation.
He said they did not get them back until they procured a warrant of arrest from court and declared them wanted on the internet.
EFCC further raised concern that there was a prima facie evidence against the accused persons as investigation had shown that former Governor Nyako diverted public funds running into billions of naira into private accounts of companies belonging to them to develop an estate in Abuja.
Expressing fear that not only the grave offence committed by them but also the massive and incontrovertible evidence already piled up against them would tempt them to bolt away, Jacobs added that hiring 15 lawyers to defend the case was an evidence that the accused were ready to do anything to get off the hook anyway, anyhow.
National Mirror reports that the EFCC suggested to the court to issue an order of accelerated hearing in the case and hear the matter day to day instead of releasing them to the free world and pose threat to its witnesses.
But the trial judge, Justice Elvis Chukwu, notwithstanding the litany of reasons given by EFCC yesterday admitted them to bail, albeit attached stringent conditions to the bail.
The accused persons were admitted to bail
in the sum of N350 million each totalling
N1.4 billion with two sureties in like sum
each, one of which must be a serving
director in the federal civil service.
They were also ordered to drop their
international passports and other travel
documents in their possession with the
deputy registrar of the court if they must
breathe air of freedom.
EFCC had, on Wednesday, arraigned Nyako,
his senator son and two other individuals
alongside four corporate persons on 37
count charge bothering on money laundering.
Others listed on the charge sheet filed by
Yusuf Ali, acting deputy Director of Legal
and Prosecution Department of EFCC as co-
accused are: Zulkifikk Abba; Abubakar Aliyu;
Blue Opal Limited; Sebore Farms and
Extension Limited; Pagoda Fortunes limited;
Towers Assets Management Limited and
Crust energy Limited.
The accused persons however, pleaded not
guilty to all the charges.
When the matter came up, the defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, brought an application for bail for the accused, dated July 10 and filed on the same day.
Agabi predicated the application on Section
118 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act and
Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution, arguing
that what the prosecution emphasised in its
opposition is that the accused will not come
for trial if granted bail.
He said that contrary to EFCC’s fear, the
accused persons were happy to stand trial
because it afforded them a rare opportunity
to clear themselves.