EFCC Explains Why $9.7m, £74,000 Seized From Ex-NNPC GMD Is Withheld
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Monday, said the money it recovered from the home of former Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) Andrew Yakubu is still a subject of litigation.
The anti-graft agency on the 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.
Yakubu served as the GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014 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.
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 judgment that dismissed a money laundering case it instituted against the former NNPC boss.
According to the Commission, since the seized funds are still subject to ongoing litigation before the appellate court, it would be wrong to return them to Yakubu.
Consequently, it prayed the high court to dismiss an application the erstwhile NNPC GMD filed to compel it to return the funds to him.
However, following his arraignment on a 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 judgment 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 money at home.
It described Yakubu’s defense 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 trial 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 Ahmed Raji, SAN, re-approached the court, accusing the EFCC of refusing to return his monies.
Raji, SAN, maintained that his client who testified in his defense, 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 judgment, 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 judgment.