Alleged N29bn Fraud: Two die after giving statements in Nyako’s Trial- Witness
A detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Adekunle Odofin, on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, told Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, that two people who made “crucial statements” during the investigation into a N29billion fraud case involving Murtala Nyako, a former governor of Adamawa State, died mysteriously after giving their statements. Odofin told the court that the two people were very vital to the prosecution of the case.
Nyako is being prosecuted by the Commission, alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba, on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29billion.
Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.
Testifying as the twentieth prosecution witness, Odofin, who had started his testimony on June 23, 2018 and tendered documents which were admitted in evidence, told the court on November 26, 2018, that one Mohammad Maj Iro, who was the General Manager, Zenith Bank Plc, the Regional Manager in charge of North-East, and the Account Officer of Adamawa State 200 accounts, domiciled in Zenith bank, died after making “crucial statements”, at the time of filing the case in the court.
While being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, on November 27, 2018, the detective told the court that the Commission also extended invitations to one Dalhatu Abdulmalik, who was the cousin to Nyako and the Director of Ameak Investment Limited, Kirkelly Investment Limited and Pilkola Engineering Limited, and that after giving his own statement, during the point of filing the case in court, he also died.
Referring to Maj Iro, Odofin said he pulled out over N800million (Eight Hundred Million Naira) from the Adamawa State account, and credited same to Crust Energy Limited, the 9th defendant in the case, taking orders from the then governor of the state, Nyako.
He explained that the behaviour of two accounts belonging to the State (Special Service Department, SSD, and Secretary to the State Government, SSG) drew the attention of the EFCC.
According to him, “the behaviour of these accounts, showed how money was being withdrawn in multiple of Ten Million Naira on different dates, running into billions of naira, by late Mohammad Maj Iro”.
He said: “The question is, why did Maj Iro withdraw money from Adamawa State account, without being a staff of the state government? Investigations revealed that memos were originated from permanent secretaries of the SSD, Mohammed Ibrahim Jidado and that of the SSG, Emmanuel Ibrahim.
“Having generated these memos, same were forwarded to SSG for transmission to the number one citizen of the State, the governor. Upon the approval of these memos, same came back to the SSG”.
He explained that vouchers were raised after the approval of the memos, in the name of the Permanent Secretary, the Accountant and cashier as the same and now taken to Maj Iro.
“Having received these cheques, Maj Iro, being a seasoned banker, pulled out these monies from the two accounts ( SSD and SSG) and he starts crediting various individuals and corporate accounts, most especially, without the knowledge of the account owners”, the witness added.
He continued: “Maj Iro credited Zenith Bank accounts of the 5th to the 9th defendants (Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited), out of the money he pulled out from Adamawa State accoun. Part of the money Maj Iro transferred to Tower Asset Management Limited, the sum of N678,000,000 (Six Hundred And Seventy Eight Million Naira) was transferred to Crust