A former Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN), on November 30, 2016 asked Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja, for more time to go through bundles of documents, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, sought to tender as exhibits against his client, a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, who is standing trial alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba for an alleged N29bn fraud.
Agabi made the application at the ongoing trial after the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, sought to tender a series of documents against the defendants who are facing a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering. They are alleged to have used five companies – Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to commit the fraud.
Jacobs had presented his third witness, Olubode Olumola, a compliance officer with Zenith Bank, Abuja, through whom he sought to tender several bank documents as exhibits. However, Agabi, counsel for Nyako, his son and Serore Farms & Extension Limited, while holding the heavy bundle of the first set of documents presented to the court by the prosecution, noted that “we need time to go through the documents, and there must be an adjournment indeed, because as long as they are tendered, they become dangerous”.
Displaying the set of documents to the trial judge, Agabi, argued that it was essential for the defence to go through all the documents one after the other, in order for the defence to be able to identify documents it would be objecting to, which if done during the trial, would take the time of the court.
Y.C. Maikyau, SAN, counsel for Abubakar Aliyu, who also held brief for O.A. Dada, counsel for Crust Energy Limited, told the court that he completely associated himself with the argument of Agabi.
“It is one thing to have these documents in the proof of evidence, but it’s another ballgame altogether bringing these documents to court for purpose of being admitted for purpose of establishing a charge,” Maikyau argued.
Olumide Olujimi, counsel for Blue Opal Nigeria limited, further argued that “though the prosecution says that they are the same documents in the proof of evidence, it is essential for us to go through them to know if indeed they are the same documents, and this will require some time.”
In his counter argument, Jacobs, told the court that the documents being presented in court were the same that had been admitted as exhibits before Justice E. Chukwu (of blessed memory), as such the defence had no excuse as they had already seen the various documents in question.
“In line with the spirit of the law, we served them these documents on August 6, 2015; we’ve tendered them before the judge presiding over the case before,” Jacobs said.
He added that: “If we have served them since August 2015 and presented in the other case, where about 90 per cent of the documents were not contested by the defence at previous proceeding, I don’t know how the issue of surprise will come in, and their argument of inadequate time will be relevant now.”
After listening to the arguments, Justice Abang, while observing that the documents sought to be tendered were indeed, “bulky in nature”, noted that “notwithstanding the fact that it has been served on them, certainly the defence have to be sure that they are the same as the ones in the proof of evidence, but if it is to be done in open court, it will take time.”
While urging the prosecution and the defence to pick a date when they would both go through the documents, the trial judge, allowed the prosecution to continue with its presentation of documents through its witness.
Jacobs, thereafter presented more documents to the court, through the witness, which included account opening documents, statement of accounts, and certificate of identification, with respect to Towers Asset Management Limited, Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, and Crust Energy Limited.
Justice Abang, thereafter adjourned to December 14, 2016 for continuation of trial.
Head Media & Publicity
30th November, 2016