$9.8m controversy: Court fixes Sept. 20 for judgment in ex-NNPC GMD’s suit against EFCC

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, fixed Sept. 20 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by Mr Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director (GMD), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), against the EFCC and others.
Yakubu is praying Justice Inyang Ekwo to determine who should take custody of the 9.8 million dollars seized from him by the EFCC after an earlier court judgment delivered in his favor inspite of the anti-graft agency’s appeal.
Justice Ekwo consequently adjourned the matter for judgment after counsel for the parties adopted their processes and presented their arguments for and against the suit.
Yakubu, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, had sued the EFCC, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) in the originating summons marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2023 as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
The ex-GMD instituted the suit over alleged refusal of the defendants to release his 9.8 million dollars after a court judgment.
Upon resumed hearing in the matter, A.A. Usman, who held brief of Raji, urged the court to uphold their submission.
But the EFCC’s lawyer, Faruk Abdullah, and that of the CBN, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, together with the GTB counsel asked the court to dismiss the suit.
NAN reports that Justice Ahmed Mohammed had, on March 31, 2022, discharged and acquitted ex-NNPC GMD of money laundering charge.
Justice Mohammed held that the EFCC failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt but the anti-corruption agency had appealed against the judgment.
Yakubu, in a fresh suit dated and filed March 8, asked whether “the court did not become dominus litis of the respective sums of 9,773,200 dollars and £74,000 belonging to” him.
He said if the question was answered in the affirmative, he further asked whether the EFCC ought to still have in its custody his seized monies after a sister court gave a judgment in his favour on March 31, 2022.
Yakubu, therefore, asked whether the monies ought not to be released to him forthwith, or paid into an account under the control of the registry of the court, pending the outcome of the appeal lodged by the EFCC against the said judgment.
He sought an order directing the defendants to immediately release the monies to him in view of the court judgment.
Alternatively, he sought an order directing them to immediately transfer the said 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 determination of the appeal.
But the EFCC, in a notice of preliminary objection, prayed the court to dismiss Yakubu’s application.
In the motion dated March 20 and filed April 12 by Faruk Abdullah,  the anti-graft agency argued that the suit constituted an abuse of court process.
It said that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
The commission said it also relied on the earlier processes filed before the court where it raised jurisdictional issues and urged the court to strike out the entire suit.
In the affidavit in support of the motion deposed to by Sambo Mayana, a detective with the commission, EFCC averred that most of Yakubu’s depositions did not reflect the correct position of the case.
It said that an appeal had already been file in appeal number: CA/ABJ/CR/653/2022.
Besides, it said that there were other appeals arising from the case pending at the Supreme Court with appeal number:. SC/CR/241/2020, between the Federal Government and Yakubu, and appeal number: $C/CR/223/2020 between Yakubu and FG.
The EFCC argued that while parties were awaiting date for hearing of case SC/CR/223/2020 at the Supreme Court, Yakubu brought an application before the apex court to direct the commission to deposit the monies in a bank account to be managed by the registry of the Supreme Court.
It said Yakubu, by this present suit, replicated his application at the Supreme Court and seeking same to be determined by this count.
The EFCC urged the court to discountenance Yakubu’s application and uphold its preliminary objection in the interest of justice.
The anti-graft agency had, in 2017, raided the residence of the ex-NNPC boss in Kaduna and found 9, 772, 800 dollars and 74, 000 pounds (9.7 million dollars and 74, 000 pounds) in a safe.
Yakubu was arraigned on March 16, 2017, on six counts but the trial court struck out counts one and two.
The Court of Appeal also struck out counts five and six and ordered Yakubu to defend himself on counts three and four.
Counts three and four which bordered on failure to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution and intent to avoid a lawful transaction in alleged violation of Section 1(1) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.
He had pleaded not guilty to all the counts.


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