The highly celebrated war against corruption of President Muhammadu Buhari and his administartion has suffered a huge defeat at the Abuja Federal High Court after Justice Ahmed Mohammed acquitted the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu.
Andrew Yakubu’s arrest in 2017 by the EFCC was one of the most celebrated arrests of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after receiving an ultimate order to fight corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.
In 2017, the EFCC followed a tip which led to the discovery of cash dollar notes residence at the Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna State, a sum of $9,772,800 and £74,000 in a safe in his residence. This discovery eventually led to his arrest with the EFCC arraigning him for money laundering.
The commission arraigned him before Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on March 16, 2017, on six counts of money laundering and other offences.
But the Court of Appeal, ruling on a no-case submission filed by the former NNPC boss, struck down the charges to counts 3 and 4, which border on money laundering offences.
In a devastating defeat to the Federal Government’s anti-corruption war, the Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that the EFCC failed to establish the necessary ingredients of the charges to warrant Mr Yakubu’s conviction.
According to the Judge, the evidence present by Mr. Yakubu, stating that the huge sum of money discovered in his residence was a gift, was not only credible but reliable.
“The prosecution failed to contradict the evidence as required by law,” the Judge said.
Justice Mohammed said the EFCC ought to have investigated Mr Yakubu’s claims that the monetary gifts he claimed to have received came from his friends, “but unfortunately for reasons best known to it, the prosecution did not do that,” the judge said.
“To worsen the situation, the prosecution assumed that the money was accepted in one fell swoop as against the evidence of the defendant that he got the money in piecemeal as gifts from his friends when he retired from service in 2014.
“It is a huge error that the prosecution did not tender the money as Exhibit throughout the trial, but made futile efforts after it had closed its case,” the judge noted
“In all, Mr Yakubu’s evidence cast a huge doubt on that of the EFCC and the doubt must be resolved in his favour,” Mr Mohammed said.
The judge agreed with Mr Yakubu’s defence that the funds were received as gifts in aggregate form and not as a “whole” that could have offended the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011.
Mr Mohammed dismissed the EFCC’s argument that the funds were proceeds of crime because they did not go through a financial institution.
As a result, the judge ordered the immediate refund of the confiscated sum of $9,772, 800 and £74, 000 to Mr Yakubu.