The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has urged a Federal High Court in Abuja to visit the Kano branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to inspect the $9,772,800 and £74,000 cash seized from a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Andrew Yakubu.
The court is also urged to conduct proceedings in the premises of the bank during the inspection of the money, which formed the subject of counts three and four in the money laundering charge on which Yabuku is being tried before the court.
The requests formed the kernel of an application filed by the EFCC (the prosecuting agency in the case) on November 17, 2020, which its lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar argued on Thursday.
Mohammed said the EFCC kept the money in the custody of the CBN, Kano branch after its operatives allegedly recovered it from Yakubu’s house in Kaduna State.
Yakubu, through his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN) urged the court to reject the request by the EFCC.
Raji, who also argued his client’s counter-affidavit, urged the court to dismiss the application by the EFCC.
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned till February 17, 2021, for a ruling.
The prosecution said EFCC’s operatives, acting on a tip-off, on February 3, 2017, raided Yakubu’s house located on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State and recovered the money kept in a fireproof safe.
The EFCC arraigned Yakubu on March 16, 2017, on a six-count charge relating to 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 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 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 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 Yakubu to enter defence in relation to the remaining four counts.
The judge was of the view that the prosecution failed to prove counts five and six of the charge, in which related to an 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 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 judge said in the May 16, 2019 ruling.
Dissatisfied, Yakubu challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which, in a ruling on April 24, 2020, upheld Justice Mohammed’s ruling and proceeded to strike out two more counts – one and two – in the charge.
The Court of Appeal then ordered Yakubu to enter his defence in respect of the remaining two counts – three and four.
Both the prosecution and defence are currently before the Supreme Court, challenging the decision of the Court of Appeal.