The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, April 22, 2016 presented its fifth witness in the ongoing trial of a former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba.
Nyako and the others are standing trial before Justice E. Chukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja in a 37-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29 billion preferred against them by EFCC.
They are alleged to have at various times between 2011 and 2013, used five companies – Blue Opal Nigeria limited, Serore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Towers Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited to commit the fraud.
The prosecution through its counsel, Adebisi Adeniyi and Leke Atolagbe, sought to present more exhibits against the defendants through the witness, Celestine Idiaye, Cluster Control Manager, Internal Control Unit, of Diamond Bank, Garki branch, Abuja.
Idiaye, who was led in evidence by Atolagbe, told the court that the bank received a letter from the EFCC dated September 23, 2014 requesting for account opening documents and statement of account in respect of Sentinel Exploration and Production Limited, a company linked to Nyako.
“We responded with a letter dated September 30, 2014 and provided two statements of account, account opening documents and certificate of identification,” he said.
He added that at the time of producing the said documents, the bank’s computer systems “were in perfect condition and we compared them with what we have in our database and they were the same.”
The forwarding letter from the bank to which was attached the various documents, were presented in court, and were identified by Idiaye as the documents from Diamond Bank forwarded to the EFCC.
However, Y. C. Maikyau, SAN, counsel to Abubakar Aliyu, questioned the admissibility of the documents by the court. He told the court that while he had “no objection to the forwarding letter, the documents attached, which include photocopies were by their nature public documents that needed to be certified by the public officer who has custody of the original copies”. He argued that the photocopy of the international passport in the document ought to have been certified by an official of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, and the photocopy of the certificate of incorporation of the company ought to have been certified by an official of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC.
“The requirements for certifying a pubic document according to Section 104 of the Evidence Act 2011 was not met as it relates to the cited documents,” Maikyau argued.
Ibrahim Isiyaku, SAN, counsel to the fourth and eight defendants, Olumide Olujimi, counsel to the fifth defendant, and O. A. Dada, counsel to the ninth defendant, all aligned themselves with the argument of Maikyau.
Responding, Adeniyi, argued that the points canvassed by the defence team was misplaced. “The position of the law is that documents attached to the letter, which has not been opposed to by the defence, must be admitted as a whole,” he said.
According to Adeniyi, “what we sought to tender through the witness was the letter sent to the EFCC from Diamond Bank, which has not been opposed to by the defence”.
He added that: “What we have before your lordship is a statement of account and we’re not in an era of ledger, and a statement of account is in its original form that was printed from the computer server.”
He, therefore, urged the court to “discountenance the objection and reject the attempt to sever the attached documents from the letter, which ought to be admitted as a whole”.
After listening to all the arguments, Justice Chukwu, thereafter adjourned till May 6, 2016 for ruling on the admissibility of the documents and continuation of trial.