$9.8m fraud: Court orders ex-NNPC boss, Yakubu to defend self in money laundering charge

YakubuA Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Andrew Yakubu to enter defence in his on-going trial for money laundering and related offences.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling on Thursday, partially upheld the no-case submission made by Yakubu and struck out counts five and six from the six-count charge on which he is being tried.

Yakubu is being tried on a six-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He is charged with, among others failure to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution, money laundering and intent to avoid a lawful transaction under law.

The charge is in relation to the huge cash comprising $9,772,800 and £74,000 said to have been recovered by EFCC operative in Yakubu’s home in Kaduna.

He was arraigned on March 16, 2017 and he pleaded not guilty, following which the prosecution conducted its case on October 17, 2018 after calling seven witnesses.

At the closure of the prosecution’s case, Yakubu, through his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), made a no-case submission on December 5, 2018 and argued that the prosecution has failed to make out a case against him.

 He contended that, with the evidence led through its seven witnesses, the prosecution failed to link him with the offences charged.

The defendant prayed the court to strike out the charge, discharge and acquit him.

The prosecution, represented by Mohammed Abubakar, countered in a reply dated January 15, 2019 and argued that it had established a prima facie case against the defendant.

It urged the court to order him to defend himself against allegations made against him.

Ruling on the no-case submission on Thursday, Justice Mohammed said: “I agree with the defence counsel that the prosecution has failed to prove the essential elements of transportation of money on counts five and six.

“I accordingly discharge the defendant on counts five and six.

“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 adjourned till July 3, 2019 for defendant to open his defence in relation to counts one to four.

The counts relate to the defendant’s alleged failure to make full disclosure of assets and receiving cash without a financial institution, an offences allegedly committed under Section 1 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended in 2012.

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