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‘N29bn fraud’: Buhari wanted case against Nyako settled out of court, says lawyer

Michael Aondoakaa, an ex-attorney-general of the federation
(AGF), says former President Muhammadu Buhari had tried to settle the criminal
case against Murtala Nyako, a former Adamawa governor, out of court.

 

Addressing the court on Thursday, Aondoakaa, the former
governor’s lead counsel, said Buhari had tried to have the case “settled out of
court on account of Mr Nyako’s age”.

 

Nyako and his son, Abdulaziz, were re-arraigned on the
allegation of N29 billion theft before Peter Lifu, a judge of the federal high
court in Abuja.

 

Shortly after the arraignment, Oluwaleke Atolagbe,
prosecution counsel, told the court that there were moves by the Nyakos to
enter a plea bargain with the government.

 

However, reacting swiftly, Aondoakaa stated that Atolagbe’s
claim of plea bargain was misleading as it meant an admission of guilt by the
defendants in the case.

 

Aondoakaa said Buhari had instructed Abubakar Malami,
immediate past AGF, to liaise with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) to have the charges dropped.

 

“But politics got in the way of the negotiation because the
then AGF wanted to be governor of Kebbi state,” Aondoakaa told the court.

 

After the defendants pleaded not guilty, the judge admitted
them to bail on the previous bail conditions.

 

The prosecution did not object to the bail requests.

 

While the charges were being read to the defendants, Nyako
protested from the dock, saying “I do not have the faintest idea about the
allegation”.

 

“You want to send me to jail so that I die?” Nyako asked the
court registrar who read the charges.

 

It took the intervention of Nyako’s son, Abdulaziz, to calm
the brewing tension.

 

Nyako also claimed that four assassination attempts had been
made on him.

 

He said when his “enemies” failed with their plot, they
brought him to court on frivolous charges.

 

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the 37-count charge.

 

Nyako and his co-defendants were first arraigned on July 8,
2015, before Evoh Chukwu, a judge.

 

The case started afresh on September 12 2016 before Okon
Abang, another judge, after the demise of Chukwu on June 8, 2016.

 

Following Abang’s elevation to the court of appeal in 2023,
the case was reassigned to Lifu.

 

Recalling the history of the case, Atolagbe said the
prosecution had called 21 witnesses and closed its case before Abang was
appointed justice of the appellate court.

 

He said Abang had dismissed the defendants’
no-case-submission and ordered them to enter their defence in the suit.

 

The judge’s ruling was upheld by the court of appeal in
Abuja.

 

The EFCC is prosecuting the Nyakos alongside Zulkifik Abba,
Abubakar Aliyu, Blue Opal Ltd, Tower Assets Management Ltd and Crust Energy
Ltd, on charges of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money
laundering.

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