A private counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said on Friday that two of the commission’s key witnesses against former governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako died mysteriously after volunteering to testify against Nyako and other accused persons.
The EFCC counsel gave their identities as Ma’aji Mohammad Iro and Abdulmalik Dalhatu, adding that they were not involved in autocrash but just died mysteriously.
The lawyer said this at he Federal High Court sitting in Abuja after the court gave bail to Nyako, his son, Abdulaziz and two others standing trial for a N40 billion money laundering charge.
Jacobs pleaded against the bail decision on six grounds, including that the freedom of the accused was a threat to its witnesses.
He expressed fear that if Nyako and the three others were granted bail, they might use their positions to cow other witnesses from coming out and that it would have difficulty prosecuting the case.
Jacobs also argued that the accused persons may jump bail because the duo fled the country after they were admitted to administrative bail by the EFCC while the matter was still under investigation.
He said they did not get them back until they procured a warrant of arrest from the court and declared them wanted on the internet.
EFCC further argued yesterday that there was a prima facie evidence against the accused persons as investigation had shown that former Governor Nyako diverted public funds running into billions of naira into private accounts of companies belonging to them to develop an estate in Abuja.
Expressing fear that not only the grave offence committed by them but also the massive and incontrovertible evidence already piled up against them would tempt them to bolt away, Jacobs added that hiring 15 lawyers to defend the case was an evidence that the accused were ready to do anything to get off the hook anyway, anyhow.
But the trial judge, Justice Elvis Chukwu, notwithstanding the litany of reasons given by EFCC yesterday admitted them to bail, albeit attached stringent conditions to the bail.
The accused persons were admitted to bail in the sum of N350 million each totalling N1.4 billion with two sureties in like sum each, one of which must be a serving director in the federal civil service.
They were also ordered to drop their international passports and other travel documents in their possession with the deputy registrar of the court.
Justice Chukwu held that the stringent conditions were attached to ensure that they would attend court so that trial would not be delayed.
EFCC had, on Wednesday, arraigned Nyako, his senator son and two other individuals alongside four corporate persons on 37 count charge bothering on money laundering.
Others listed on the charge sheet filed by Yusuf Ali, acting deputy Director of Legal and Prosecution Department of EFCC as co-accused are: Zulkifikk Abba; Abubakar Aliyu; Blue Opal Limited; Sebore Farms and Extension Limited; Pagoda Fortunes limited; Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust energy Limited.
The accused persons however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges.