Court Rejects EFCC’s Request In Ex-NNPC GMD Yakubu’s $9.8, £74,000 Fraud Trial

A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to amend its charge in the $9.8 million, £74,000 fraud trial of a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling yesterday, held that granting the EFCC’s application would amount to varying a subsisting judgment given by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, on April 24, 2020.

In the verdict, the court, among others, ordered Yakubu to enter defence in relation to counts three and four of the six counts originally contained in the charge on which he was arraigned.

Justice Mohammed was emphatic that allowing the prosecution (the EFCC) to amend the charge was tantamount to disobeying the subsisting order by the Court of Appeal in its judgment of April 24, 2020.

The EFCC claimed that its operatives, acting on a tip-off, raided Yakubu’s house on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State on February 3, 2017 and recovered the $9,772,800 and £74,000 cash kept in a fire-proof safe.

The commission arraigned Yakubu on March 16, 2017, on a six-count charge bordering on money laundering offences.

He was, among others, accused of failing to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution, which borders on money laundering and intent to avoid a lawful transaction under the law, transported at various times to Kaduna, the aggregate sum of $9,772,800 and £74,000.

The prosecution closed its case on October 17, 2018, after calling seven witnesses.

The seventh prosecution witness, an operative of the EFCC, Suleiman Mohammed, spoke about how his team recovered the $9,772,000 and £74,000 cash in Yabubu’s house in Kaduna, which was later deposited in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Kano.

At the closure of the prosecution’s case, Yakubu made a no-case submission, which Justice Mohammed, in a ruling on May 16, 2019, partially upheld by striking out two of the six counts contained in the charge and ordered the ex-NNPC boss to enter defence over the remaining four counts.

The judge held that the prosecution failed to prove counts five and six of the charge, which related to allegation of unlawful transportation of the money.

“Even though I am tempted to discharge the defendant on counts one to four, I am, however, constrained to ask the defendant to explain how he came about the money recovered from his house.

“Fortified with my position, the defendant is hereby ordered to enter his defence in respect of counts one to four,” Justice Mohammed said in the May 16, 2019 ruling.

The defence prayed the court to refuse the prosecution’s application for an amendment of the charge and allow the defendant to continue with his defence, a prayer Justice Mohammed granted in his ruling yesterday.

When the judge ended the ruling yesterday, the defence indicated its intention to proceed with its case.

But the court adjourned till June 30, following a plea by the prosecution for an adjournment on the grounds that the lead prosecuting lawyer was not immediately available.

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