Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
Again, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arraigned a former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, his son, Senator Abdulaziz Nyako, along with others before a Federal High Court in Abuja over an alleged N40bn fraud.
They were arraigned on 37 counts of money laundering allegedly perpetrated while Nyako was the governor of Adamawa State.
Others who were arraigned along with them on Monday included Zulkifik Abba and Abubakar Aliyu.
The firms allegedly used to perpetrate the fraud and which were joined as the 5th to the 9th defendants were Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.
The fresh arraignment followed the death of the former trial judge, the late Justice Evoh Chukwu.
They were initially arraigned on August 7, 2015 and the case had proceeded to trial before Justice Chukwu died in June.
The case was subsequently reassigned to Justice Okon Abang before whom the accused persons pleaded not guilty again on Monday.
Justice Abang allowed the defendants to continue to attend their trial on bail on the same terms and conditions earlier given by Justice Chukwu.
The court subsequently fixed November 17 and 21 for trial to begin afresh.
The EFCC alleged that the defendants diverted funds from the Adamawa State treasury between January 2011 and December 2014.
It alleged that the defendants had in their bid to conceal the illicit origin of the stolen funds, embarked on the development of estates in Abuja.
The commission said it was able to trace various cash lodgements that Nyako and his son made into various bank accounts they operated in the name of the companies that were indicted in the fraud.
It maintained that huge sums of money, which were purported to be security funds, were illegally placed under the control of one Ma’aji Iro, the then Regional Manager of Zenith Bank Plc in the North-East.
They were said to have sequentially withdrawn the funds through the bank manager and channelled same for private use, contrary to section 15 (2) (a) & (6) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
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