A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, granted bail in the sum of N1.4 billion to a former Adamawa Governor, Murtala Nyako, his son, Senator Abdulazeez Nyako, and two others charged with money laundering and stealing N40 billion belonging to the state when Nyako served as governor.
The EFCC had arraigned the accused persons on Wednesday and the court remanded them in the custody of the commission, pending Friday’s hearing of their bail application filed by their counsel, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN).
Delivering ruling after hearing Agabi and Rotimi Jacob, SAN, EFCC counsel’s arguments, the trial judge, Justice Evoh Chukwu, granted the four accused a bail of N350 million each.
He also ordered that each accused must provide two sureties or, alternatively, one surety who must be of the level of a director in any Federal Government establishment.
The judge also held that each surety must own a landed property in Abuja and provide evidence of ownership of the property, which must also be verified by the court bailiff.
Chukwu further ordered that the sureties must swear to an affidavit of means, must submit their two passport photographs and tax clearance certificates for the last three years to the court.
He also ordered that Nyako and the co-accused must immediately surrender and deposit their international passports to the Court Registrar.
At Friday’s sitting, which was slated for the hearing and ruling on the bail application, Agabi urged the court to admit the accused to bail.
Agabi conceded that the granting of bail to his clients was at the discretion of the court to exercise, adding that the accused were presumed innocent under the law, until proven otherwise.
The accused counsel contended that, given the caliber of personalities of the accused and the team of 15 lawyers engaged by them to prove their innocence, they should be granted bail even on self-recognition.
“ My Lord, they have been on administrative bail from the EFCC; a former governor, former Chief of Naval Staff and his son, who is a serving Senator, have no hiding place,’’ Agabi argued.
Jacob, in response, objected to the bail application and, although he too conceded to the fact the granting of an accused bail was at the court’s discretion, he urged the court to exercise it with caution.
He contended that the weight of evidence against the accused was very overwhelming and the gravity of the charge so grievous that they may be tempted to jump bail if granted.
The prosecution counsel further argued that EFCC once declared the Nyakos wanted and they only returned to the country recently, and so were likely to run away again if granted bail.
“They stole Adamawa State money running into billions of naira which they converted into private accounts and moved same to Abuja where they used it to build private estates,’’ he said.
Justice Chukwu adjourned the case until Sept. 30 for trial.