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Court asks ex-NNPC GMD, Yakubu to open defence in money laundering case

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JUSTICE Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has struck out the no-case submission filed by Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the corruption charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Tony Orilade, the spokesman of the EFCC, said Yakubu was ordered to open his defence as the trial judge ruled that the prosecution had established a prima facie case against him.

Recall how in February 2017, the EFCC, acting on information by a whistleblower, conducted a search on a building in Kaduna allegedly owned by Yakubu and recovered about $9.8 million and £74,000 in cash. The monies were kept in a fire-proof cabinet and the building was an ordinary-looking bungalow which nobody would ever suspect housed such a huge amount of money.

Yakubu would later explain that the monies were gifts by persons he refused to name.

The monies were confiscated and the EFCC filed a lawsuit asking the court to order the forfeiture of the money to the federal government. Yakubu was also charged with money laundering and fraud.

He was briefly remanded in Kuje Prison in the Federal Capital Territory but was later granted bail in the sum of N300 million. The court also granted an order forfeiting the $9.8 million and £74,000 to the government.

The EFCC closed its case against Yakubu in October 2018 after calling seven witnesses and presenting documents that were admitted in evidence. But the defence counsel filed a no-case submission saying that the prosecution had not established any criminal case against the accused person.

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However, in his ruling on Thursday, Justice Mohammed said he agreed with the defence that some of the charges against the defendant had not been established by the prosecution, but added that there were cases to answer on the other counts.

“I agree with the defence counsel that the prosecution has failed to prove the essential element of transportation of money on counts five and six,” Mohammed said.

“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 monies recovered from his house.

“Fortified with my position, the defendant is hereby ordered to enter his defence in respect of counts one to four.”

The charges bothered on Yakubu’s failure to fully disclose the monies in his Assets Declaration form, as well as receiving a cash payment of the said sums without going through a financial institution, an offence under the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to July 3, for Yakubu to open his defence.

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