17 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos Abuja — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday arraigned Mr. Andrew Yakubu, the erstwhile Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), before a Federal High Court in Abuja on a six-count charge of money laundering.
He pleaded not guilty to the offences but Justice Ahmad Mohammed remanded him in prison pending the determination of his bail application on 21st March 2017.
Mr. Yakubu who is accused of stashing over N3billion in his house in Kaduna was GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014.
“When somebody’s plea is taken, the prosecution no longer has control over such defendant who has become a property of the court.
“It will be a negation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act to allow the prosecution to still retain the defendant in its custody. God willing, the ruling will be delivered on the next adjourned date,” the judge ruled while rejecting a plea from Mr. Yakubu’s lawyer.
Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, Yakubu’s Lawyer had earlier asked the court to remand his client in EFCC custody or grant him bail on self-cognizance.
Mr. Raji argued that counts one and two of the charge attracted a maximum of five years imprisonment upon conviction, while count three and four stipulated that 25 percent of the alleged loot be forfeited to the federal government while the last two counts may only attract 10 years jail term.
The counsel to the accused stated that the burden to prove that an accused or defendant is not entitled to bail in a noncapital offence is on the prosecution.
“The defendant is a responsible Nigerian who has no criminal record and has served his fatherland very well. I submit that the prosecution has not justified why he should be denied bail.
Mr Raji stated that his client was ready to face his trial, adding that he had options of not returning to the country when the EFCC struck but “but he came back”.
The EFCC however, opposed Yakubu’s bail application and urged the trial judge to exercise his discretion in the overall interest of justice. “My lord you are entirely in control of the scale of justice and the nation is entitled to justice.
“If the court is mindful of granting their request for bail, we ask that the court gives stringent conditions that will compel the defendant to attend his trial.
“We vehemently oppose his prayer to be released on self-recognisance,” EFCC lawyer, Mr. Ben Ikani, submitted.
He noted that though Yakubu claimed he has health challenges, he, however, failed to adduce any medical report indicating that he has any chronic ailment.
“Yes, his health is important, we agree. The issue is that EFCC is a 21st-century law enforcement agency. Since he has been in custody, we have constantly monitored his health. EFCC takes good care of people in its custody not to talk of a former GMD of the NNPC. We have adequate facility to take care of him.
“We concede that he submitted himself voluntarily. But the issue that is of concern to us is his prayer that his international passport should be temporarily released to him. We oppose that application in its entirety,” the prosecution added.
It was be recalled that the EFCC acting on a tip-off, raided Yakubu’s guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, where it recovered $9.7million and £74,000 hidden in a fireproof safe inside the house.
Mr. Yakubu claims that the monies recovered are gifts but he has refused to disclose the names of those who gave him the money.