How ex- Adamawa governor looted state’s funds, witness tells court


How ex- Adamawa governor looted state’s funds, witness tells court

July 10, 2024

An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detective, Adekunle-Christopher Odofin, told a Federal High Court, Abuja, how former Governor of Adamawa, Murtala Nyako, siphoned the state’s funds running into billions of naira, while in office.

Odofin, who is the EFCC’s star witness and 1st prosecution witness (PW-1) in the alleged N29 billion fraud preferred against Nyako; his son, Abdulaziz, and others, told Justice Peter Lifu while given his testimony.

Nyako, who was Adamawa governor between Jan. 2007 and Dec. 2014, is facing a 37-count charge bothering on money laundering.

They were re-arraigned, on March 21, alongside Zulkifik Abba, Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms and Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The trial, which began on Aug. 7, 2015 before late Justice Evoh Chukwu, was reassigned to Justice Okon Abang and they were re-arraigned on Oct. 17, 2016.

However, the case was again re-assigned to Justice Lifu following Abang’s elevation to Appeal Court.

Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness told the court that “as a detective, my schedule of duty include investigate all cases assigned to my team, write report on same, forward same to Legal and Prosecution Department of the commission and also go to court to testify in respect of same.”

Odofin, who identified Nyako as former Adamawa governor, said he also doubled as the chairman and chief executive officer of Sebore Farms and Extension Limited.

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

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

“These two companies came together to form Blue Opal Limited on 50/50 ratio.

“I know the 3rd defendant in this case. His name is Zulkifik Abba.

“He is a director in Cross Energy Limited. He is also a shareholders in a company called Mainstream Energy Limited.

“The 3rd defendant is also a director in a company called Sentiment Production and Exploration Limited.

“I also know the 4th defendant. His name is Abubakar Aliyu. He is a director in Tower Assets Management Limited.

“He is also a signatory to the bank account of Tower Assets Management Limited.

“The 4th defendant is also a shareholder in Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited,” he told the court.

The detective said in 2011, the anti-graft agency received a petition against the defendants.

“Sometimes in 2011, the commission was in receipt of a petition dated 10th October, 2011 written by one Alhaji Saheed Umar.

“The petitioner alleged how the 1st defendant (Nyako), while he was executive governor of Adamawa State, siphoned the state funds running into billions of naira through a programme called Special Project Programme Unit (SPPU).

“The petitioner also alleged how the 1st defendant used his office to inflate contracts in his state.

“This petition was accepted and assigned to Economic Governance 3 (EG3) Unit for discreet investigation,” he said.

Justice Lifu admitted the petition in evidence and was marked Exhibit MN01 after the defence counsel including Michael Aondoakaa, SAN, who appeared for Nyako and his son, did not oppose Jacobs tendering it as evidence against their clients.

According to the witness, having assigned this petition to EG3, all the team members sat together and deliberated on the proper approach to adopt in investigating this case.

“It was agreed that letters of investigation activities be written to relevant agencies.

“As a result of this, the commission generated a letter of investigation activities to Zenith Bank, requesting for statements of account and account opening packages of Sebore Farms and Extension Production Limited, Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited, Tower Assets Management Ltd, Cross Energy Ltd, Pandora Fortune Ltd, Padoga Petroleum Limited, Amdak Investment Limited, Kirkelly Investment Ltd, and Binkola Engineering Ltd.”

The PW-1 said the agency also wrote some other banks in relation to the investigation.

“Letters of investigation activities were also written to Fist Bank Nigeria Ltd in respect of Cross Energy Limited and Tower Assets Management Ltd.

“The commission also wrote letter of investigation to Diamond Bank, now Asset Bank Ltd in respect of Sentiment Exploration and Production Ltd and Tower Assets Management Ltd.

“Letters of investigation activities were also written to Guarantee Trust Bank in respect of Tower Assets Management Ltd.

“A letter was also written to Union Bank and ECOBANK in respect of parties involved in this case and other identified companies and individuals.

“Responses to these requests were received and analysed,” he said.

He said letters of investigation activities were written to Adamawa State government to furnish the commission with details of payment vouchers and memos in respect of various sums running into billions of naira withdrawn from Special Services Department (SSD) domiciled in Zenith Bank and Secretary to State Government (SSG)’s account, also domiciled in Zenith Bank Plc.

Besides, Odofin said EFCC wrote Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) in respect of 5th to 9th defendants (companies), including Amdak Investment Ltd, Kirkelly Investment Ltd Binkola Engineering Ltd, and other companies linked to the investigation.

“Responses to these requests were also received and analysed,” he said.

The PW-1 said Nyako was invited by the EFCC on June 1, 2015 and he read and understood the petition.

He said the former governor made five written statements but the court could only found four of the statements.

When Rotimi sought to tender the statements, the defence lawyers opposed it.

The lawyers, including Aondoakaa, argued that since there were no indication that Nyako had legal representation at the time the statements were made, such action was in breach of procedural rule

Justice Lifu, who adjourned the matter until Oct. 24 and Oct. 28 for continuation of trial, said the issue of the four statements would be addressed by the court.(NAN)