The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed amended charges against a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, from whom huge sums of money in foreign currencies were recovered in 2017.
But Mr Yakubu, who has already started his defence at the Federal High Court in Abuja, has rejected the amended charges.
The trial judge, Ahmed Mohammed, listened to the arguments canvassed by the defence and the prosecution on Wednesday, and adjourned till April 15 for ruling on whether to accept the amended charges or not.
How it got here
Mr Yakubu was arraigned in 2017 before Mr Mohammed on charges relating to the $9,772, 800 and £74,000 recovered in cash from him by the operatives of the EFCC in February 2017.
The EFCC operatives, acting on a tip-off, raided Mr Yakubu’s house located on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State, on February 3, 2017, when they recovered the funds kept in a safe.
The former NNPC boss was subsequently charged with six counts including failure to make full disclosure of assets, money laundering and intent to avoid a lawful transaction, having unlawfully transported, at various times to Kaduna, an aggregate sums of $9,772,800 and £74,000.
The EFCC had closed after calling witnesses and tendering the documents including the ones indicating the lodgments of the money at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
But Mr Yakubu’s legal team subsequently raised a no-case submission which was upheld in part by the judge, who had dismissed two of the six counts in a ruling delivered on May 16, 2019.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja also in an April 24, 2020 judgment, affirmed Mr Mohammed’s ruling and dismissed two additional counts.
Mr Yakubu was left with only counts 3 and 4 to defend.
Arguments on amendment of charges
At the resumed hearing in the case on Wednesday, the prosecution said it had filed amended charges dated March 8, 2021 and sought the leave of court to validate it.
The prosecuting counsel, Halima Shehu, prayed the court to grant the application.
She, however , said “the defendant through his counsel refused service.”
Replying the prosecuting counsel, the defence counsel, Aliyu Usman, said he refused to accept service of the amended charges based on the April 24, 2020 decision of the Court of Appeal which ruled that the defendant should enter his defence only in respect of two counts.
“It is only in respect of Counts 3 and 4 that there is a prima facie case to answer, we are bound by the appeal,” he said.
He urged the court to refuse the application and allow the defendant to continue with his testimony.
But Ms Shehu, in her response, argued that “the law allows the prosecution to amend charges at any stage of the proceedings before judgement.”
Citing judicial precedents set by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, she said “any court may alter or add any charge before judgment is given.”
The judge thereafter adjourned till April 15.
One of the newly introduced counts in the amended charges reads, “That you Andrew Yakubu ( while being the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation- NNPC) some time 2012 and 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court with intent to avoid a lawful transaction under law transported at various times to Kaduna the aggregate sum of $ 9,772,800 ( Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Seventy-Two Thousand, Eight Hundred United States Dollars) only when you knew or reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 7(4)(b)(ii) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 under punishable under Section 7(5) of the same Act.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...