By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The former governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd), who is facing a 37-count money laundering charge alongside his son, Abdulaziz, has threatened to drag the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to court over alleged mysterious death of two key witnesses billed to testify against him.
Nyako, in a statement he issued through his lawyer Mr. M.M Bakari, yesterday, said the entire process that led to his arrest and arraignment, was ”a stunt stage-managed by the leadership of the EFCC to achieve some public relations goal and probably anchor them on a pedestal that will impress the new leadership of the countraåy”.
Denying his alleged connection with the death of the witnesses, Nyako accused the EFCC leadership under Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde of “trying to persecute, rather than prosecute a few high profile personalities in order to avert falling victims of the broom of change sweeping across all facets of the country”.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had in a counter-affidavit it filed against Nyako and his son who is a serving Senator, Abdulaziz, informed the trial court that the two witnesses, Ma’aji Mohammed Iro and Abdulmalik Dalhatu, were found dead shortly after they came to its office and testified against the accused former governor.
Late Iro was the then Regional Manager of Zenith Bank Plc, North East, Nigeria, and was in charge of the accounts of Adamawa State with the bank.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Nyako siphoned over N40billion from the Adamawa State treasury and used late Iro and made several cash lodgements running into billions of Naira into the accounts of several companies.
It said that the bank manager made confessional statements and adduced several incriminating evidence against the former governor before his death.
Five of the 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 also listed as the 5th to 9th accused persons in the charge.
Equally on trial is Nyako’s political adviser. Zulkifikk Abba and one Abubakar Aliyu.
Justice Chukwu had on July 10 granted the accused persons bail to the tune of N350million each.
Aside surrendering their travelling documents to the court, the accused persons produced two sureties, even as their trial was adjourned to September 30.
However, EFCC, in the counter affidavit deposed to by one of its lead Detectives, Mr. Adekunle Christopher Odofin, said it was worried that Nyako and his son would go into hiding.
It told the court that the “mysterious circumstances” that led to the death of the two star witnesses against the accused persons, ”has instilled fear in other prospective witnesses in this case”.
Irked by the depositions of the anti-graft agency, Nyako, in the statement signed by his lawyer, Bakari, said EFCC’s allegations against him were “baseless, wicked and unfounded”.
According to Bakari, “The most worrisome of all the allegations presented by the EFCC lawyer Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, was the allegation that Nyako and his son, Abdulaziz, have a hand in the death of two witnesses of the commission”.
He explained that contrary to EFCC’s insinuation, two out of 31 witnesses on its list had died in hospitals after battling with certain known ailments.
“They neither died at the same time nor slumped and died as insinuated by the EFCC.
“While one died in a hospital in Abuja, the other died in a hospital in Yola shortly after he returned from a complicated medical treatment abroad.
“It is therefore unfair, unjust and uncharitable to accuse Nyako and his son of the death of the two persons, who as every human being have a sure date with death.
“This is totally unethical and Admiral Nyako has already decided to sue both the EFCC and their lawyer to court for defamation of character”.
Besides, he dismissed as “blatant falsehood”, allegation by the agency that Nyako’s son, Abdulaziz, jumped bail and returned to Nigeria after May 29.
“That is totally false and in fact malicious. The truth is that Abdulaziz was in Nigeria during the electioneering campaigns.
“He contested as a senator, went through the process of both security and party screening, campaigned for the election and was arrested by the EFCC in Gombe within the same period.
“He was brought to Abuja from Gombe, detained and was granted administrative bail with conditions to report daily which he complied.
Nyako contended that most of the charge against him were contradictory and repetitive, saying whereas he was impeached from office in July 2014, some of the charge contained offences he allegedly committed in July 2014.
”When lawyers abandon the presentation of evidence and resort to dramatization and presentation of wild, malicious and false insinuations, it means a desire to malign the accused.
“If there is any proof as to why the EFCC keep losing virtually all their cases, the manner of the prosecution of the Nyako case provides such proof abundantly.
“From the framing of the charges to the conduct of their lawyers in court, everything was wrong.
“It was quite obvious that the goal is to persecute Nyako, tarnish his image and give him a bad name in the eyes of the public”, the statement read.