Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja, has adjourned to June 19, 2017, for continuation of hearing, in the trial of a former governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako.
Nyako is standing trial for N29billion fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The former governor is being prosecuted alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.
On May 15, 2017 when the case came up, counsel to the anti- graft agency, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, presented as witness, the Chief Executive Officer, Accounts, Adamawa State, Adamu Yahaya Digil, to tell the court all he knew about the matter.
Digil, who testified as the PW10, told the court how he made payments, took records of such payments and made monthly returns to the office of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, between 2008 and 2014.
“Usually, payments were made on approvals from the governor. When such approvals are given, the SSG brings the approval, directs the permanent secretary, who in turn transmits and directs me on the approval. Based on the directive, I will then prepare the payment vouchers, PV, and take to the audit department.
“After the audit department approves the PV, I will raise cheques and vouchers and take them back to the permanent secretary. He signs and I sign too, as the second signatory. I will then take it to the bank for withdrawal, bring back the voucher and take to the payee, who signs and collects the money”, he stated.
Jacobs sought to tender copies of the payment vouchers, signed by the SSG between 2008 and 2014 as exhibits, but its admissibility was objected to by the defence counsels who argued that prosecution ought to have made the documents available in the proof of evidence.
The objection was sustained by Justice Abang, who ordered the prosecution to make copies of the documents available to the defence, for them to go through and adjourned to May 17.
At resumed trial today, Y. C. Maikyau, SAN, representing the 3rd defendant, who also held brief for Kanu Agabi, SAN, and Ibrahim Isiyaku, SAN, counsel to 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th defendants and counsel to the 4th and 8th defendants, respectively, told the court that they were served with the documents late on Tuesday evening.
He told the court that, the document was bulky and that it was quite impossible for them to have gone through all before appearing in court today.
“I am forced to tell your Lordship my difficulty here. In all honesty and with every sense of responsibility, it was impossible for us to go through all these documents as of when we were served, which was around 5pm yesterday, till this morning.
“It will be professionally negligent on my part, to take steps regarding them, without having an opportunity to thoroughly look at the documents”, Maikyau said.
He prayed the court and the prosecution, to “see reasons why the defence should be given more time to properly scrutinize the documents”.
Responding, Jacobs told the court that some of the documents had been admitted in evidence before and urged the court to keep the eleven volumes of the document with the court, pending the next adjourned date when the defence will tell the court if they are objecting or not.
After listening to the arguments, Justice Abang ruled that “the documents shall be in custody of the court registrar, pending the time the court takes a decision on the issue of admissibility”.