Tobi Soniyi in Abuja Former Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako, his son, Abdulaziz (a serving Senator) and two of the ex-governor's aides have been granted bail by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
This was as the anti-graft body narrated to the court how two key witnesses in the matter died mysteriously for which reason they opposed bail for the accused.
Nyako, Abdulaziz, Zulkifikk Abba (Nyako's ex-Political Adviser), Abubakar Aliyu and five companies where they allegedly had interests, were arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the court on June 8 on a 37-count charge of conspiracy, money laundering and abuse of office.
The companies are Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Ltd, Pagoda Fortunes Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd.
Justice Evoh Chukwu, in a ruling on Friday, rejected EFCC's objection and granted bail to the accused persons at N350 million with either two sureties or one, who is a director in any Federal Government's establishment.
The sureties, the judge said, must own landed property in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), show evidence of tax payment for the last three years and must swear to affidavit of means. The accused persons are to deposit their travel documents with the court.
In opposing the bail application, EFCC gave details of how the accused allegedly looted billions of naira from the Adamawa State Government's coffers into their private companies.
The EFCC also complained about the mysterious death of two of its key witnesses in the case, including a Regional Manager with Zenith Bank, Ma'aji Mohammad Iro, who was in charge of Adamawa State Government's accounts with the bank, and who allegedly assisted the accused in laundering billions from the state's coffers.
The anti-graft agency said, in its counter affidavit to the accused persons' bail application, that it was dangerous to allow Nyako and his co-accused on bail because "Two of our crucial witnesses, Ma'aji Mohammed Iro and Abdulmalik Dalhatu have died in mysterious circumstances and this has instilled fear in other prospective witnesses in this case.
"The 1st and 2nd accused persons (Nyako and Abaduaziz) are the owners of the 6th accused (Sebore Farms & Extension Limited), which they operated by themselves. Several fictitious contracts, running into billions of naira were awarded to the said 6thaccused while the 1st accused was governor of Adamawa State. One Ma'aji Mohammed Iro was in charge of the accounts of Adamawa State with Zenith Bank.
"On the instruction of the 1st accused, Ma'aji Mohammed Iro made several cash lodgments running into billions of naira into the accounts of several companies and individuals including the accounts of the 6th to 9th accused (Blue Opal Ltd, Sebore Farms & Extension Ltd, Pagoda Fortunes Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy Ltd) all from the accounts of Adamawa State Government for no specific reason.
"On the instruction of the 1staccused, N698, 408,011.62 was paid from the account of Adamawa State Government with Zenith Bank into the account of the 6th accused (Sebore Farms and Extension ltd) with the same bank to service and liquidate the loan of N500million obtained by the 6thaccused.
"Another sum of N160m was deposited into the account of Agrited Nigeria Ltd on the instruction of the 1st accused from the account of the Adamawa State Government with no contract rendered to the state. Several moneys running into over N5billion of Adamawa State funds were transferred to the 9thaccused (Crust Energy Ltd) mostly on the instruction of the 1staccused.
"About N240m of Adamawa State was invested by the 7th accused - Pagoda Fortunes Ltd - (a company owned by a son of the 1st accused) in Hill View Estate, Abuja, an estate owned by the 2nd accused (Abdulaziz Nyako).
"The 3rd accused (Zulkifikk Abba), who is a political adviser to the 1st accused, is the owner of Alpharetta Farms Ltd, one of the companies through which funds of Adamawa state was stolen. The 3rd accused is a director in the 9thaccused (Crust Energy Ltd); a company controlled by the 2ndaccused and through which several billion of naira belonging to Adamawa State was stolen.
"The 4th accused (Abubakar Aliyu) is a signatory to several accounts of the 5th accused (Blue Opal Ltd), through which several monies running into billions of naira from the funds of Adamawa State Government were laundered to develop Hill View Estate, Abuja.
Nyako, Abdul-Aziz, Aliyu and Abba were accused to have, at various times between 2011 and 2013, used the five companies -Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to siphon about N29b from the Adamawa State coffers.
One of the 37 counts of the charge reads: "That you Murtala H. Nyako, Abdulaziz Nyako, Zulkfikik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited between January and December 2013 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did disguise the genuine origin of an aggregate sum of N6, 366,280,000 (Six Billion, Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Million, Two Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira), which sums you reasonably ought to have known to be proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit; moneys derived from the theft of Adamawa State Government's funds." They pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to them on Wednesday.
Justice Chukwu has adjourned to September 30.