How a former Adamawa State governor looted state funds – Witness

How a former Adamawa State governor looted state funds – Witness

EFCC detective Adekunle Christopher Odofin has testified before a Federal High Court in Abuja on how former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, misappropriated billions of naira into the state fund during his tenure in office.

Odofin, who is the EFCC’s star witness and first prosecution witness (PW-1) in the N29 billion fraud charge filed against Nyako, his son Abdulaziz and others, told Justice Peter Riff while giving evidence.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nyako, who served as governor of Adamawa state from January 2007 to December 2014, faces 37 charges relating to money laundering.

They were re-indicted on March 21 along with Zulkifik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms and Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Asset Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.

However, they pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial which began before the late Justice Evo Chukwu on August 7, 2015, was reassigned to Justice Okon Abang and rearrested on October 17, 2016.

However, following Mr. Abang's elevation to the Court of Appeal, the case was again reassigned to Judge Rif.

The witness, testified by Mr Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, told the court, “As a detective, my duties include investigating all cases assigned to my team, writing reports on them, submitting them to the legal and prosecution division of the commission and going to court to testify in respect thereof.”

Odofin identified Nyako as a former governor of Adamawa State, saying he was also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sebore Farms and Extension Limited.

He said Abdulaziz is a director of Blue Ribbon Multilinks and also co-owner of Blue Opal Limited and Opal Synergy Nigeria Limited.

“The name of the owner of Opal Synergy Nigeria Limited is Neigi Ofori Jombo.

“The two companies merged in a 50/50 ratio to form Blue Opal Limited.

“I know the third accused in this case, his name is Zulkifiq Abba.

“He is a director of Cross Energy Limited and is also a shareholder in a company called Mainstream Energy Limited.

“The third defendant is also a director of a company called Sentiment Production and Exploration Limited.

“I also know the fourth defendant, his name is Abubakar Aliyu, he is a director of Tower Asset Management Limited.

“He is also a signatory on the bank account of Tower Asset Management Limited.”

“The fourth defendant is also a shareholder in Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited,” he told the court.

The detective said that in 2011, the anti-corruption agency received a petition against the accused.

“Sometime in 2011, the commission received a petition dated October 10, 2011 written by one Alhaji Saheed Umar.

“The petitioner alleged that the first defendant (Nyako) while he was the executive governor of Adamawa State misappropriated state funds running into billions of naira through a programme called the Special Projects Programme Unit (SPPU).

“The petitioner also alleged that the first defendant used his powers of office to inflate contracts in the state.

“The petition has been received and assigned to the Economic Governance 3 (EG3) Unit for careful investigation,” he said.

Judge Ryff accepted the petition into evidence and marked it as Exhibit MN01 as the defense team, including lawyer Michael Aondoaka, who appeared for Nyako and her son, did not object to Jacobs introducing it as evidence against their clients.

According to witnesses, after allocating the petition to EG3, all the team members sat together and deliberated on the appropriate approach to be adopted in investigating the case.

“It was agreed that letters regarding investigative activities would be sent to the relevant agencies.”

“Consequently, the Commission has written investigatory action letters to Zenith Bank requesting production of account statements and account opening packages of Seboa Farms and Extension Production Limited, Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited, Tower Asset Management Limited, Cross Energy Limited, Pandora Fortune Limited, Padga Petroleum Limited, Amdak Investment Limited, Kirkelly Investment Limited and Vincola Engineering Limited.”

PW-1 stated that the authorities had also written letters to other banks in connection with the investigation.

“Notice of investigation activities have also been sent to Fist Bank Nigeria Limited in relation to Cross Energy Limited and Tower Asset Management Limited.

“The committee also sent a letter of inquiry to Diamond Bank Ltd (now Asset Bank Ltd) in respect of Sentiment Exploration and Production Ltd and Tower Asset Management Ltd.”

“A letter regarding investigative activities has also been sent to Guaranty Trust Bank in relation to Tower Asset Management Company.

“Letters have also been written to Union Bank and Ecobank in relation to those involved in this case and other identified companies and individuals.

“The responses to these requests have been received and analyzed,” he said.

He said a letter of investigative action had been written to the Adamawa State Government to furnish to the committee details of payment vouchers and memoranda relating to various amounts running into billions of naira withdrawn from the accounts of the Special Services Department (SSD) domiciled at Zenith Bank and Secretaries to State Governments (SSGs) also domiciled at Zenith Bank.

Odofin further stated that the EFCC had written to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in respect of defendants nos. 5 to 9 (companies) which include Amdak Investments Ltd, Carkelly Investments Ltd, Vincola Engineering Ltd and other companies implicated in the investigation.

“Responses to these requests have also been received and analyzed,” he said.

PW-1 stated that Mr Nyako was invited by the EFCC on June 1, 2015 and that he had read and understood the petition.

He said the former governor had submitted five written statements but the court could only verify four of them.

When Rotimi attempted to file a statement, the defence opposed it.

The lawyers, including Aondoaka, argued that such an action violated procedural rules because there was no evidence that Nyako had retained a lawyer at the time he made the statement.

Judge Ryf, who adjourned the matter until October 24 and 28 for continuance of the trial, said the issues in the four statements would be dealt with by the court.


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