The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Monday, gave reasons why it withheld alleged stashed loot that its operatives recovered from the home of a former Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu.
Yakubu served as the GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014.
The EFCC, through its lawyer, Mr. Faruk Abdullah, told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that it has gone before the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgement that dismissed a money laundering case it instituted against the former NNPC boss.
Consequently, it prayed the high court to dismiss an application the erstwhile NNPC GMD filed to compel it to return the funds to him.
It will be recalled that the anti-graft agency had on the strength of a tip-off by a whistleblower, raided Yakubu’s guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State in 2017 and discovered the sum of $9.7million and £74,000 which he hid in a fireproof safe inside the house.
Subsequently, the Federal High Court in Kano, on February 13, 2017, granted an interim order for the recovered monies to be forfeited to the federal government.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna, in 2018, upheld the forfeiture order.
However, following his arraignment on money laundering charge, Yakubu, told the trial court that the seized monies were part of gifts he received on various occasions.
He told the court that people gave him monetary gifts on occasions such as birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations he hosted after he left service.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Ahmed Mohammed on March 31, 2022, discharged and acquitted the defendant of the charge against him.
It held that the EFCC was unable to adduce sufficient evidence in support of the charge, adding that it failed to prove that the defendant received all the monies at once.
The court further held that the defendant did not violate any known law by his decision to keep his monies at home.
It described Yakubu’s defence as “credible”, stressing that EFCC failed to do a good job in its investigation.
“A prudent investigator could have asked the defendant to provide the names of some of his friends and other individuals who had given him monies as gifts or as goodwill and find out how much each person had given him and thereafter invite them to find out the truth or otherwise,” Justice Mohammed added.
He held that the defendant, having been discharged and acquitted, there was no more basis for FG to continue to retain the monies it seized from him.
The tria court directed that all the seized funds should be released to the defendant, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Meanwhile, over a year after he was acquitted, Yakubu, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, re-approached the court, accusing the EFCC of refusing to return back his monies.
Raji, SAN, maintained that his client who testified in his own defence, successfully established that the seized funds were not proceeds of crime or any illegal transaction.
Arguing that the EFCC, by withholding the funds, acted in gross violation of the subsisting judgement, Yakubu’s lawyer prayed the court to intervene in the matter.
After he had listened to all the parties, Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned the case till November 1 for judgement.