The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) have been mentioned as defendants in a case filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja by a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, Naija News reports.
The complainant accused the defendants of allegedly refusing to release his $9.8 million following a court order.
In a suit filed through his legal counsel, Ahmed Raji (Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN), Yakubu questioned why the Nigerian anti-graft agency and its collaborators still have his access to his funds despite a court order which acquitted him of charges labelled against him earlier.
The summons, labelled FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2023, was dated and filed on March 8, with the EFCC, CBN, and GTB listed as the first, second, and third defendants, respectively.
Money Laundering Charges, Yakubu’s Arrest
It could be recalled that the EFCC in 2017, raided the ex-NNPC boss’s Kaduna residence and discovered a safe containing 9,772,800 dollars and 74,000 pounds (9.7 million dollars and 74,000 pounds).
Although Yakubu was arrested on six counts on March 16, 2017, the trial court dismissed counts one and two.
Naija News understands that counts five and six were also dismissed, and Yakubu was ordered to defend himself on counts three and four.
Counts three and four, alleging failure to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution, and intending to avoid a lawful transaction, were alleged violations of Section 1(1) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.
Yakubu had pled not guilty to all charges against him.
Subsequently, on March 31, 2022, Justice Ahmed Mohammed discharged and acquitted the former NNPC GMD of the money laundering charges.
The judge upheld that the EFCC failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, but the anti-corruption agency appealed the decision.
Later, Yakubu questioned whether “the court did not become dominus litis of the respective sums of $9,773,200 and £74,000 belonging to” him when they were put in issue and in evidence before the court in charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/43/2017 between the Federal Republic of Nigeria vs. Engr Andrew Yakubu, and in respect of which judgement was delivered on March 31, 2022.”
If the question was answered in the affirmative, he asked whether the EFCC should still have his seized funds after a sister court ruled in his favour on March 31, 2022.
As a result, Yakubu asked whether the funds should not be released to him immediately or deposited into an account under the control of the court registry, pending the outcome of the EFCC’s appeal of the said judgement.
He sought an order directing the defendants to immediately release the funds to him in light of the court’s decision.
Alternatively, he sought an order directing them to immediately transfer the monies into an account under the control of the FHC chief registrar or into an account to be operated by the chief registrar, the EFCC, and him, pending the outcome of the appeal.
EFCC Asks Court To Dismiss Yakubu’s Application
In a preliminary objection, the EFCC asked the court to dismiss Yakubu’s application, arguing that the suit constituted an abuse of the court process.
In a motion dated March 20 and filed on April 12 by Faruk Abdullah, the anti-graft agency stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
Also, the commission stated that it relied on previous processes filed with the court, in which it raised jurisdictional issues and urged the court to dismiss the entire suit.
Meanwhile, EFCC stated in an affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Sambo Mayana, a detective with the commission, that most of Yakubu’s depositions did not reflect the correct position of the case.
It stated that an appeal had already been filed under the number CA/ABJ/CR/653/2022.
Furthermore, it stated that there were other appeals arising from the case pending at the Supreme Court, with appeal numbers SC/CR/241/2020 between the Federal Government and Yakubu and C/CR/223/2020 between Yakubu and the FG.
The EFCC argued that while parties awaited a date for the hearing of case SC/CR/223/2020 at the Supreme Court, Yakubu filed an application with the apex court directing the commission to deposit the funds in a bank account managed by the Supreme Court registry.
It stated that Yakubu, through this suit, replicated his application at the Supreme Court and requested that it be decided by this count.
In the interest of justice, the EFCC urged the court to dismiss Yakubu’s application and uphold its preliminary objection.
When the matter was brought up on Thursday, Yakubu’s lawyer, A.A. Usman, stated that they had received counter-affidavits from the defendants and that he would need time to respond.
Idaye Imbu, the lawyer for GTB, informed the court that a motion to regularise their processes had been filed, and the court granted her request after no one in the suit objected.
Justice Ekwo postponed the hearing until May 18.