UDATE 1: Former Governor Nyako and his senator son, Abdul-aziz, have been brought into the premises of the Federal High Court, Abuja. The EFCC is to arraign them before Justice Evoh Chukwu
UPDATE 2: Former Imo Governor, Ikedi Ohakim, is still being expected here. There are suggestions he might be arraigned before Justice Kolawole. No sight of him yet.
UPDATE 3: Meanwhile, an official of the legal unit of the EFCC says former Governor Sule Lamido and his two sons might be arraigned in Kano on Thursday. They were initially billed for arraignment Wednesday, but the official said there has been some logistical hitches
UPDATE 4: Judge arrives at 1. 31 pm, says he has a short ruling to deliver before calling Nyako and son’s case.
UPDATE 5: Court clerk asks accused persons: ex governor and his son, if they understand English to which they all answered yes!
UPDATE 6: Mr. Nyako is dressed in an all white agbada and black cap while his son is also on a white agbada with gold embroidery and a cap. The court clerk reads out the charges, up to count 7 and still counting and accused present pleaded not guilty. The charges border on money laundering. Mr. Nyako’s son is in the dock, beaming with smiles while hearing the charges and pleading not guilty.
UPDATE 7: The suspects are accused of converting huge sums of money, including N240 million – state funds – to develop an estate, Hill View estate in Mpape, Abuja, between October 2011 and June 2012 among others. Crime punishable under Section 15 subsection 1A of the money laundering prohibition Act, 2011. They all pleaded not guilty to count 15 and still counting.
UPDATE 8: The courtroom is full with security officials – mobile police officers. Some are sitting on a chair outside the courtroom. The accused pleaded not guilty to count 21. More charges are being read to them. Counsel to the accused, Mr. Kanu interjects at count 21, he prayed the judge to please allow chairs for the accused who had been standing for about an hour. The accused – four of them, two in front and two others behind – on the dock sit, with the ex governor folding his arms, keeping a long face, unlike his son who has been all smiles. The court clerk continues to count 22, 23 and 24 …. still counting. They kept pleading not guilty to the charges.
UPDATE 9: Court clerk requests a break after reading count 32 for his assistant – a light skinned lady – to take over. The judge at first refused, asking if the clerk is not being paid his salary, but later allows him to take a rest. Asked how many more charges were left, the clerk replies, “five more charges, my Lord. “ The lady clerk takes over, continues from count 33. All accused persons have so far pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
UPDATE 10: The clerk ends at count 37, with accused pleading not guilty to all count charges. The counsel to the EFCC calls its witness who goes to the witness dock but was asked to go back to his seat after the defence counsel said they were not ready for the commencement of the case.
The counsel for the accused also said they were just served an application Wednesday afternoon. The defence counsel prayed the court to grant the accused bail as all the prisons across Nigeria are congested. He also suggested that instead of remanding them in prison, they should be left in the custody of the EFCC which he said appears to be better. However, the counsel for the accused said that might not be possible as the EFCC does not have accommodation.
He said the accused – all of them – were kept in an office from Tuesday till Wednesday when they were brought before the court.
UPDATE 11: The court ruled that the accused be remanded in EFCC custody. He said bail application would be heard on Friday, July 10. The former governors of Imo and Adamawa States, Ikedi Ohakim and Murtala Nyako, and Mr. Nyako’s son, Abdul-aziz, have been arrested by officials of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission. The former governors, and Abdul-aziz Nyako, who is a senator now, are to be arraigned at a Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday on different cases of alleged corruption.
A source at the EFCC had in June told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Ohakim had questions to answer concerning a number of properties allegedly traced to him. The commission said in a statement that the two Nyakos were wanted on allegations of stealing, abuse of office and money laundering. Mr. Nyako’s son had been interrogated by the EFCC over alleged illicit funds traced to companies in which he had interest. Specifically, he was asked to explain how over N15 billion belonging to Adamawa State was allegedly laundered into the accounts of five companies said to owned by him. The companies are Blue Opal Nigeria Limited, Crust Energy Nigeria Limited, Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Blue Ribbon Bureau De Change. The funds were allegedly funnelled into the accounts of the five companies, from Adamawa state government bank accounts. The transfer was done by the account officer who incidentally is the manager of the bank and an in-law to former governor, Mr. Nyako.
The EFCC said the manager claimed he transferred the funds based on verbal instructions from the former governor for purposes that were not stated. The commission said its investigations revealed that from 2007 to 2011, the then Governor Nyako directed that all state-owned accounts domiciled in various banks be transferred to the account supervised by his in-law. Abdul-Aziz Nyako’s company, Blue Opal, is said to own, among other investments in Nigeria, an estate in Abuja, while his father’s account officer owns several properties and investments scattered around Abuja, Yola and Kano.
Source: Premium Times