A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday granted a N350 million bail bond to former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, his son and seven others who are charged with fraud.
Ruling on the bail application by defence counsel Kanu Agabi (SAN), Justice Chukwu Evo ordered the accused persons to produce two sureties or one, who must be a serving director in civil service.
The surety, according to the judge, must show evidence of landed properties in Abuja.
The surety must also swear to an affidavit of means.
On Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Nyako before the court on charges bordering on corruption, abuse of office and money laundering. Nyako and his son, Abdul-Aziz, a serving senator, were docked before Justice Chukwu on a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
The duo were charged alongside Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba on the allegation that at various times between 2011 and 2013, they used five companies – Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited – to siphon over N15 billion from the Adamawa state coffers.
The arraignment comes a few days after a federal high court sitting in Abuja declined to restrain the EFCC from arresting Nyako to stand trial for money laundering offences. Nyako was arrested and quizzed by the anti-graft agency June 1, 2015, shortly after he returned to the country from self-exile. He had gone on self-exile after he was declared wanted by the commission on February 4, 2015.
One of the counts reads: “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.
They pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.
Earlier on Thursday, Ikedi Ohakim, former governor of Imo state, who is accused of stealing and laundering? N270 million, was granted bail of N270 million by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the federal high court, Abuja.
The same day, Sule Lamido, former governor of Jigawa state, and his sons, Aminu and Mustapha,? who are being tried in a federal high court in Kano for corruption and money laundering, were not so lucky, as Justice Evelyn Anyadike, remanded them in prison custody until September 28.
Moving the bail application, Kanu Agabi (SAN) Nyako’s counsel and former attorney-general of the federation, 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, premising his argument on the fact that Nyako and his son, who is a serving senator, had been declared wanted by EFCC after they ignored the invitation of the anti-graft agency.According to Jacob, the former governor and his son absconded and went into hiding, until after May 29, 2015. “They are not automatically entitled to bail even with their status,” he said.
“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.” 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.
In his ruling on the bail application, Justice Chukwu admitted the accused persons to bail in the sum of N350 million 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?.