By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, did not declare the $9,772,800 and £74,000 that was recovered from his guest house in Kaduna.
The anti-graft agency told the court that Yakubu who was GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014, stashed the “loot” which is over N3billion, in a fireproof safe inside the house.
It said the foreign currencies were found after investigators at its Kano Zonal office, engaged an expert that cracked the code the defendant used to lock the safe.
EFCC brought one of its lead detectives in Kano State, Mr. Sambo Muazu, to testify before the court.
In his Evidence-In-Chief, Muazu, told the court that he took statement from the ex-NNPC boss who he said later filled an EFCC assets declaration form.
The witness who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Ben Ikani, said the defendant, while filing the form, failed to list the recovered monies among his assets.
Muazu said EFCC had upon its discovery of the funds, investigated some contracts that were signed while Yakubu was the GMD of NNPC.
According to the witness, “In 2015, we commenced investigation into two categories of contracts which were awarded by NNPC and its subsidiaries.
“The first category relates to Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) between NNPC’s subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited (AEDCL). The contract was signed between NPDC and AEDCL.
“The first SAA was on Oil Mining Lease (OML) 26, 30, 34, 40 and 42. The second SAA was on OML 60, 61, 62, and 63.
“The investigation was sequel to intelligence report received by the EFCC relating to suspicious fund transfers from AEDCL’s account in Nigeria to a sister company called Atlantic Energy Holdings (AEH)
“Also, additional transfers from Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited (AEBDL) to the same Atlantic Energy Holdings. The AHL’s accounts are based in Switzerland.
“There were also transfers from Atlantic Energy Holdings account in Switzerland to the Nigerian accounts of the two sister companies – AEDCL and AEBDL.
“It was on the basis of these suspicious transactions that we commenced investigation.
“In the course of investigation, it became necessary to seek clarification from Engr. Andrew Yakubu. He was accordingly invited, and we interacted with him. And thereafter, we reduced the interaction into writing.
“The two SAA were executed between the end of 2011 to 2014 April, during which Engr. Andrew Yakubu was the Group Managing Director of NNPC. He was in office from June 2012 to August 2014.
“After our interaction and his statement recorded, he declared his assets sometime between July and August 2015.
“The EFCC has a standard assets declaration form. A copy of that form was given to Engr. Andrew Yakubu. He filled the form, declaring his assets.
“He was asked to declare his assets based on the allegations that the company Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept was allowed to lift crude oil worth over $1billion without fulfilling the necessary obligations on their path.
“It was on this basis that investigation was conducted and thereafter, some individuals were charged to court.”
Yakubu is answering to a six-count charge EFCC preferred against him.
It will be recalled that the former NNPC boss was undergoing medical treatment in the United Kingdom when the EFCC, acting on a tip-off, raided his guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, and recovered the alleged loot which was in foreign currencies.
The defendant who was granted N300million bail with two sureties in the like sum, earlier asked the high court to order EFCC to return the seized money to him, insisting that it was part of monetary gifts he received on various occasions.
A Federal High Court in Kano had on February 13, 2017, granted interim order forfeiting the recovered monies to the federal government.
FG had in the charge marked FHC/ABJ/ CR/ 43/ 2017, alleged that Yakubu failed to declare the money in the assets form he filed at the EFCC on August 18, 2015, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 27(3) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under section 27(3) (c) of the same Act.
In count three and four of the charge dated March 9, FG, alleged that Yakubu had between 2012 and 2014, without going through a financial institution, received cash payments of $9, 772, 800 and £74, 000, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 1 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under section 16(2) of the Act.
In count five and six, FG alleged that Yakubu had with intent to avoid a lawful transaction under the law, transferred at various times in Kaduna, aggregate sums of $9,772, 800 and £74, 000, when he reasonably ought to know that the said funds formed part of the proceed of some form of unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 7(4) (b) (ii) of the Advance Fee Fraud Act, 2006.