Monday, January 17

N29 billion fraud: Court adjourns former Adamawa Governor’s trial to January 24


An Abuja division of the federal high court has adjourned till January 24, 2022, the N29 billion fraud suit brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against former Governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako and 8 others pending the determination of an appeal before the court of appeal.

Mr Nyako is being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako and seven others on a 37-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N29 billion.

The presiding judge, Justice Okon Abang ruled that the matter has been adjourned for mention or to abide by the outcome of the appeal before the appellate court.

What happened in court

When the matter was called up in court today,  Mr O. Atolagbe, the prosecution counsel told the court that the matter was adjourned today for counsels to give a report on the state of the appeal before the appellate court and also for mention.

He said “As it stands, judgement by the court of appeal has not been delivered neither have we been given a date for it. Ordinarily, the case is supposed to be for defence. That is the reason I cannot push for an adjournment. ” Mr Atolagbe said.

The defence counsels prayed the court to adjourn the matter pending the judgement of the court of appeal.

Counsel for the prosecution did not object to the application for an adjournment, he said the appeal court is still within the legal time frame of 90 days to deliver judgement on the said appeal.

Justice Abang, who adjourned the matter, ordered the Chief Registrar to release the passport of the 3rd defendant named Zulkifik Abbah to enable him to visit his family in Dubai.

Parties having agreed and depending on the outcome of the appeal, this matter is hereby adjourned for January 24, for mention and or to abide by the outcome of the court of appeal.” The judge ruled.

Backstory

Mr Nyako’s trial began on July 7, 2015. The EFCC called a total of 21 witnesses to establish its case against the defendants and closed its case on November 3, 2019.

After EFCC had closed its case, Mr Nyako and the other defendants filed a no-case submission seeking the court to dismiss the charges proffered against them on the grounds that the prosecution failed to link them to the alleged crimes.

On July 19, 2021, Justice Abang ruled that the defendants has a case to answer. He dismissed Mr Nyako’s no-case submission on the grounds that it lacked merit. He ordered all defendants to enter defence.

However, the defendants approached the court of appeal challenging the dismissal of their no-case submission. They said the appeal was filed in accordance with Order 4 rule law 10 of the  Court of appeal Rules.

The appeals were argued on October 21, 2021, and the court of appeal reserved a ruling to communicate the judgement date to the parties in the case.

At the last adjourned date, counsel to the defendants prayed the court to rule on their application asking the court to stay proceedings in the matter pending the outcome of the appeal at the appellate court.

Justice Abang the trial judge had been transferred earlier in the year to the Asaba division of the federal high court, he still comes to the Abuja division on extended jurisdiction to conduct trial based on a fiat issued by the chief judge of the Federal High court.

What you should know

On July 8, 2015, The EFCC arraigned Mr Nyako and the other defendants on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office, and money laundering.

EFCC claimed that the defendants used some companies as a conduit pipe to illegally divert funds belonging to the state government between 2011-2013.

The companies included: Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.

Mr Nyako was elected governor of Adamawa State in April 2007. He ran for a second tenure in 2012 and was re-elected into office as governor

However, On July 15, 2014, he was impeached by the state house of assembly after the adoption of a report by a panel set up to probe him which found him guilty of gross misconduct.

On February 11, 2016, the court of appeal in Abuja declared his impeachment null and void. The court held that his impeachment was not done in accordance with the provisions of the law.

The appellate court ordered the state house of assembly to pay him all his entitlements from the date of impeachment.

On December 16, 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the appellate court but refused to reinstate him on the grounds that he had removed the plea for his reinstatement from his claims at the appeal court.



nairametrics.com