The trial of a former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako has been stalled following the adjournment of the case at the instance of the Federal High Court.
At the resumed trial on Monday in Abuja, Justice Okon Abang informed the parties that the court is adjourning the trial to February 26 to enable the defendants to reply on point of law on their no-case submission.
Nyako had urged the court to strike out the alleged ₦29 billion money laundering charges filed against him and others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The anti-graft agency is prosecuting the former governor alongside his son, Abdul-Aziz Nyako; two companies – Sebore Farms and Extension Ltd and Pagado fortunes Ltd. They are listed as first, second, sixth and seventh defendants.
Other defendants are Zulkifik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd as third, fourth, fifth, eighth and ninth defendants respectively.
He was arraigned on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on Monday admitted in evidence documents tendered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako.
The former governor is standing trial on 37 counts of conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29bn.
One of the documents which were tendered through the 12th prosecution witness, Caroline Utsaha, showed that a total of N80m deposit was made in a day in the name of Blue Opal Limited, one of the companies allegedly used by the former governor to siphon the state funds.
According to a statement from the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, the documents tendered and admitted in evidence include a letter dated July 21, 2014, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Blue Opal Limited – Exhibit H1; a letter dated August 15, 2014, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Opal Corporate Limited – Exhibit H2; and a letter dated February 26, 2015, captioned “Re-Investigation Activities”, with the account name – Crust Energy Limited which was admitted as Exhibit H3.
Utsaha, a relationship manager with the First Bank, while being led in evidence by counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, said: “In 2014, the EFCC wrote our Bank, requesting for details of the accounts packages and statements of accounts of three accounts. The accounts were: Blue Opal Limited, Opal Corporate Limited and Crust Energy Limited. I got all they requested and did a forwarding letter to the Commission and also did an identification letter, indicating that the statements and all the documents are from First Bank”.
When asked to look at Exhibit H1 and tell the court about the transactions therein, the witness said: “the entries here are series of deposits of Zenith bank cheque”.
“On March 29, 2012, there were eight deposits of Zenith bank cheque of N10m each. The deposits were done on the same day,” she added.
Justice Abang adjourned till July 4 for the continuation of hearing.
Nyako is being prosecuted alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako as well as Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba.
Other companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the purported diversion of funds are Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.
Adamawa State Governor, Mohammed Jibrilla, has returned to Yola, the state capital to a rousing welcome by his supporters following the Supreme Court ruling that denied Murtala Nyako’s request to be reinstated.
He thanked the people of the state for giving him the opportunity to serve.
Governor Jibrila promised that he would not be distracted by anything and would continue to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Mr Nyako had approached the apex court to request his reinstatement to office after ruling in his favour that his impeachment by the state House of Assembly was illegal.
He also asked that his entitlements as a governor while his tenure lasted, be paid to him.
Delivering his judgement, the lead justice, Justice Mohammed Musa, stated that the request sought by the former governor at the apex court had already been withdrawn by his counsel in the lower court.
According to him, having withdrawn the relief voluntarily at the Court of Appeal, the appellant had no basis for seeking the same relief again at the Supreme Court; he therefore dismissed the appeal in its entirety for lack of merit.
A former Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako, has sent a petition to the National Judicial Council, accusing the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, of frustrating a case he filed, challenging the legality of his impeachment.
In the petition submitted on Wednesday, he claimed that the Chief Judge withdrew the case file from the Adamawa division of the court.
Justice Auta was alleged to have withdrawn the case file few days to the delivery of judgement by the trial judge, Justice Bilikisu Aliyu.
Admiral Nyako, through his counsel, Olukoya Ogunbele, said that withdrawal of a case file few days to judgement date by any judicial officer was in bad taste and should not be condoned.
In a similar development, Nyako had also dragged the Chief Judge of Adamawa State, Justice Ishaya Banu, before the National Judicial Council (NJC) for disciplinary action over alleged miscarriage of justice in the suit challenging the legality of his (Nyako) impeachment.
In a petition sent to the NJC on February 10, Nyako alleged that Justice Banu frustrated his legal action by delaying proceedings in the matter assigned to himself thereby subverting the cause of justice.
He asked the NJC to investigate the matters with a view to establishing their veracity or otherwise.
Admiral Nyako also ask the NJC to apply appropriate sanctions against Justice Banu in other to protect innocent citizens from any further abuse of their judicial authority
The former Adamawa governor requested for an order that would speed up hearing of his case in the interest of justice.
The former governor was impeached in July 2014 by the lawmakers after reviewing the report of a panel of inquiry set up to investigate allegations of financial impropriety against him and his deputy.
The impeachment notice, signed by 19 of the 25 state lawmakers, listed 20 impeachable offences against them. There was also an accusation of extra-budgetary expenditure of over 390 million Naira,as overhead cost from January 2013 to December 2013, among other allegations.
The defection of some Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors may not have ended, as it appears another aggrieved governor of the party may be on his way to join the five who earlier defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
There are strong indications that the Governor of Jigawa State, Mr Sule Lamido, may be the latest to jump camp as there are reports that there are consultations currently going on to seal the movement.
Reports reveal that Governor of Rivers State and the Director General of the APC Presidential Campaign, Mr Rotimi Amaechi met with Governor Lamido in Abuja on Sunday in a meeting the reports show may be linked with a possible political bombshell.
Recently Governor Lamido and President Goodluck Jonathan are reported to have lost affinity, an indication that the purported rift between the two may lead to a very drastic move.
Governors Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara, Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers, Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State, Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and impeached Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State had on Nov. 26, 2013, left the PDP to join the APC.
The former head of state and Presidential Aspirant of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari says the greatest problem facing Nigeria is not religion or tribal differences, but the deliberate plot by the ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP) led government to use religion and ethnicity to polarise the country for selfish gains ahead of the 2015 general election.
Speaking during the APC Northern Stakeholders Interactive Meeting held in Kaduna on Saturday, General Buhari noted that going by the militarisation of the last governorship election in Ekiti and Osun states where a large number of soldiers and other security operatives were deployed for the election, shows that the ruling PDP is desperate to hold on to power using every means at its disposal.
He argued that the abducted Chibok school girls from Borno state by the Boko Haram members would have been rescued if the federal government had deployed such number of soldiers to the north east where the Boko Haram terrorists have killed thousands of innocent people.
While stating that 2015 should be another year of extreme concern for the country, Buhari said another four years of PDP will send Nigeria down the drain and therefore called on the Independent National Electoral Commission( INEC) to ensure that it does not disenfranchise eligible voters in the ongoing voter registration and to also provide a level playing ground for all political parties and candidates.
Also speaking Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, stressed the need for the north to be united in order to defeat some of the challenges confronting the region, lamenting that the north had remained backward despite its contribution to nation building, calling on all Nigerians to be actively involved in the political transition by voting an APC government that will rescue the country from alleged maladministration of the PDP.
The Deputy national chairman of the party, Lawal Shuaibu who set the agenda of the day, said the meeting was convened primarily to discuss the state of the party as it affects the north and the country in general and thereafter seek the opinion of party leaders on how to move the party forward.
He said since the last APC national convention, the party has faced a number of challenges which include the impeachment of the former Adamawa state governor, Murtala Nyako, the move to remove his Nasarawa state counter part through unconstitutional means and the loss recorded by the party in the Ekiti state governorship election, stating that the meeting has nothing to do with discussing on who emerges as the consensus presidential candidate of the party.
Other speakers include the Northern Elders Forum and the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF) which urged the party to come up with a formidable consensus presidential candidate that will be acceptable to the North and the country at large in other to defeat the ruling PDP in the next election.
Present at the meeting were presidential aspirants of the party, General Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Sam Nda Isaiah.
Others are governors of the party, senators, party chairmen and other stakeholders from the 19 northern states.
A Nigerian Lawyer, Fred Agbaje, on Monday berated the Federal Government for the “selective implementation” of court judgments, noting that such a trend would impede the development of the judiciary and the rule of law.
Appearing as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Agbaje recalled a situation in June 2013, “when the same Federal High Court gave judgment in respect of Fresh Democratic Party” and nullified the de-registration of the Party.
“For one good year, INEC and Federal Government refused to obey that judgment,” he said, disclosing that a Motion For Stay and Notice of Appeal were received about two months ago.
According to him, the party did not sue for contempt because it knew what it would meet. He said that the party had been denied access to contest in the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun governorship elections, despite the court ruling.
“We didn’t know all along that they had their motives, only for us to get a motion asking that they are going to Court of Appeal, after depriving the beneficiary of that judgment the fruit of their hard-won victory, for one year. That is justice for you in this country”.
However, he lauded the judiciary, stating that “they’ve done well” and had played by the rule but that “only the politicians are refusing to tow the path of sanity”.
He encouraged legal practitioners to keep their heads up high, as “one misjudgment can cause havoc in the entire system and that’s why judges must be commended”.
He also commended Justice Adeniyi Ademola for his judgement on the Adamawa case, as well as the Federal Government of Nigeria for “the quick implementation” of the court ruling in favour of Ngilari, insisting that it was “a radical departure from the hitherto situation where a judgment had been given in black and white, but government agents started looking for loopholes not to obey it.
Referring to this case in Adamawa, Agbaje surmised that; “this selective implementation of judgment is not good for the development of the rule of law”. He also stated that he “might not be agreeable to that judgement”.
He noted that the peculiarity of every case determines that applicability of the principle of law and the interpretation to be given. “You cannot take hook, line and sinker the principle of law established in one case and use it as a statuette of general application for all other cases, without relating it to the facts before you.”
He argued that the former deputy governor, Bala Ngilari, and the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Umaru Fintiri, must never be allowed to benefit from their own wrongs, noting that the former deputy governor was well aware of his actions, when he submitted his resignation letter to the speaker.
He noted that the deputy governor did not “manifest the intention to resign”. “Did he actually intend to resign or was he just fooling the entire people of Adamawa state? He asked.
He further opined that the deputy governor should have refused to be intimidated to resign, but because he was afraid of being impeached along with the governor, he chose to “send them on a wild goose chase”.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr. Kayode Idowu has insisted that that the bye election in Adamawa State to be conducted by the commisison is to fill the void left in the State’s Government House.
Mr. Idowu who spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily from Abuja via Skype on Wednesday, emphasised that the election in Adamawa State to be conducted on October 11, is a bye election to complete the tenure of the present dispensation which was made vacant as a result of the impeachment of former Governor, Murtala Nyako.
”It is a bye election to complete the tenure of the vacancy in power in the state”. Mr Idowu said.
He said INEC has put in place logistics for the success of the bye election even as the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) have been distributed all over the state except for five local government areas where there are security challenges.
”INEC is prepared for the bye election in Adamawa state as the permanent voter card is been distributed all over the state aside five local government areas, Madagali, Michika, Mubi North, Mubi South and Maiha for obvious reasons.
He said eligible voters in the state will use their PVC in the election, except people residing in the affected local government areas, who are expected to use their temporary voters card because of the security challenges.
Mr. Idowu said INEC has consulted widely with security agencies and the Inter Consultative Committee On Elections Security to fine tune their operation in the bye election.
With the tenure expected to end on May 29th 2015, Mr. Idowu insists that there will be another election in the state in February 2015 for the seat of the governorship election for another four year term.
Despite not giving in to argument about the legality of the bye election and the election thereafter in the state, Mr. Idowu reiterated that INEC is conducting the election based on strong legal advice.
”I can only speak about what the commission is doing and I am sure INEC is conducting the election based on sound legal advice.
”The much i know is that the commission will conduct the bye election in October and another election in February 2015”.
With the claims that the former deputy governor of the state went to court stopping the commission from conducting the bye election as he did not resign, Mr. Idowu insisted that there is no court order stopping INEC from conducting the bye election in Adamawa State.
”As we speak, there is no court order stopping INEC from carrying out a constitutionally mandated duty.
”So the commission have to work on specifics as the constitution says when there is a vacancy in power it has to be filled up within a certain time as stipulated and INEC is going by the code book”.
He revealed that the ongoing voters registration will commence after the bye election as the registration in Adamawa state has been scheduled to be among the twelve states in the third phase.
The All Progressives Congress, APC, has asked that the 24-hour curfew imposed on Adamawa State be suspended ahead of the bye-election in October, 2014.
Rising from an inaugural meeting of the National Executive Council, spokesman of the APC, Mr Lai Mohammed, told journalists that the party does not believe that there would be a transparent and fair election under such condition.
Mr Mohammed said that members of the party also agreed with the call by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that hooded security operatives should not be used during the 2015 general elections.
Apart from the curfew suspension, the party also decided to employ a modified direct approach that would ensure the largest participation of its members during elections, adding that the party would not miss any member who has chosen to defect from the party.
Many Nigerians have been reacting to the defection of former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nuhu Ribadu, from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the October 11 governorship bye election in Adamawa State.
Mr Ribadu, a former presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2011, was reported to have registered as a PDP member and given a party membership card at his Bako ward in Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa State on Saturday.
In an interview with Channels Television, a public affairs commentator, Mr Emmanuel Ado, said that Ribadu’s defection to PDP may likely be a plot by the APC, which may have pushed him to PDP, in order to reclaim the governorship seat of Adamawa State, following the impeachment of the former governor, Murtala Nyako, by members of the State House of Assembly.
While stating that the former anti-corruption boss had lost his credibility by defecting to the PDP, a party he once described as party of thieves, Mr Ado stressed that Ribadu also lacked the political influence to win the governorship seat in Adamawa State, adding that the greatest beneficiary in the whole matter would be the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
He further pointed out that the PDP would lose Adamawa State if it goes ahead to field Ribadu as its candidate in the October 11 bye election.