THE former Group Managing Director (GMD) of defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, has sued the EFCC, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTB) over alleged refusal to release his $9.8 million after a court judgment.
Yakubu, through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, filed the suit before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The originating summons, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2023, was dated and filed on March 8, 2023 with EFCC, CBN and GTB listed as 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Ahmed Mohammed had on March 31, 2022, discharged and acquitted the ex-NNPC GMD of the money laundering charge.
Justice Mohammed held that the EFCC failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt but the anti-corruption agency has appealed against the judgment.
In the suit, Yakubu asked whether “the court did not become dominus litis of the respective sums of $9,773,200 and £74,000 belonging to” him when same was put in issue, and in evidence before the court in charge number: FHC/ABJ/CR/43/2017 between Federal Republic of Nigeria v. Engr Andrew Yakubu, and in respect of which judgment was delivered on the 31st of March, 2022.”
He said if the question was answered in the affirmative, 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 on April 12 by Faruk Abdullah, the anti-graft agency argued that the suit constituted an abuse of the 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 filed 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: SC/CR/223/2020 between Yakubu and the federal government.
The EFCC argued that while parties were awaiting a date for the 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. The EFCC urged the court to discountenance Yakubu’s application and uphold its preliminary objection in the interest of justice.
When the matter was mentioned on Thursday, A. A. Usman, who appeared for Yakubu, said they received counter-affidavits from the defendants and he would need time to respond.
GTB’s lawyer, Idaye Imbu, informed that a motion to regularise their processes had been filed and the court granted her prayer after it was not opposed by parties in the suit.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until May 18 for a hearing.
NAN reports that the anti-graft agency had, in 2017, raided the residence of the ex-NNPC boss in Kaduna and found 9.8 million dollars and 74,000 pounds in a safe.
Yakubu was subsequently arraigned on March 16 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 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. (NAN)