The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 presented its fifth witness before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja to establish its case against a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako who is facing trial for a N29billion fraud.
Nyako is being prosecuted along his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba on a 37-count charge bordering on 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 accused persons respectively.
The witness, Mohammadu Ibrahim, whose evidence started on Tuesday told the court, how monies were disbursed through his office to the Adamawa State government when Nyako held sway as governor between January 2011 and December 2014.
Ibrahim, a retired permanent secretary, explained that when monies are released, there were two procedures for disbursement.
First, he said, monies were released monthly to his office for allowances of Adamawa State Security Council which included the Inter-religious Councils through their secretaries to help the state in the maintenance of peace. He added that the second procedure was through memoranda.
“I generate the memoranda on the directive of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Kobis Arithimnu. He gives me the figure of the amount of money to be released through the memoranda. I prepare the memo and then submit to him for endorsement after which he transmits it to the Governor for approval.
“After the approval has been given, I will be further directed to raise cheques and payment vouchers for the SSG to sign and release to the regional zonal manager Zenith Bank, Maaj Iro”, Ibrahim stated.
The prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, tendered the instructions from SSG, memo and cheques as evidence and they were admitted as exhibits A-C respectively.
When asked to tell the court how he retired the funds being released to his departmental account, Ibrahim said, “I retire them through the payment vouchers signed by the recipient, SSG (Mr. Kobis Arithimnu) who also signs the vouchers. Thereafter, the SSG will direct us to release the cheques to Iro”.
The witness went further to explain that the money released monthly to them was paid to the commanders of the Adamawa State Inter-religious Councils adding that, they used to sign the payment slip attached to the vouchers.
Under cross-examination, counsel representing 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants, Ibrahim Isiyaku, SAN, asked the witness to read out the payment vouchers as contained in exhibit A-C series.
“I certify that the payment above is genuine and it is in the interest of the
government,” Ibrahim read.
Responding to another question by counsel to the 3rd defendant, Y. C. Maikyau, SAN, on whether EFCC gave him any money when he was invited to write statement, Ibrahim answered in the negative.
At the resumed hearing today, the case could not go on as parties agreed on an adjournment to allow the court, whose time had been choked as a result of the length of time taken by cases that came up earlier, a recess.
Justice Abang, consequently, adjourned to March 20 – 23, 2017 for further trial.