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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Court dismisses EFCC’s application to cross-examine ex-NNPC GMD over alleged $9.8m fraud

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to cross-examine former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling, sustained the objection raised by Ahmed Raji (SAN), counsel to Yakubu.

According to reports, Raji had, on July 22, disagreed with the EFCC’s lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, on his plan to cross-examine his client, who is the first defense witness (DW1), based on Exhibit “J”.

Exhibit J borders on a case with the suit instituted by the anti-graft agency in 2016 before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba when Yakubu was GMD of NNPC.

The case, which is still ongoing, involves an oil company, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, in which Yakubu was initially the seventh defendant in the suit and was later dropped to become the first prosecution witness, in the matter bordering on illegal lifting of crude oil.

Raji had argued that Exhibit J, which the EFCC lawyer planned to take Yakubu on, was irrelevant to the case.

He objected to the propriety of the prosecution to cross-examine the ex-GMD on the exhibit, which he said was tendered in respect of counts one and two, which had been struck out pursuant to the orders of the Court of Appeal in its judgment, dated April 24.

According to Raji, counts one and two, having been struck out by the Court of Appeal, Exhibit J, which was tendered thereof, has become irrelevant as far as counts three and four are concerned.

Yakubu was arraigned on March 16, 2017, on six counts but was ordered by the Court of Appeal to defend 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.

The EFCC alleged that the offence contravened the provisions of Section 1(1) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.

In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Mohammed said it was not in doubt that by the judgment of the Court of Appeal alluded to above, the defendant (Yakubu) was specifically ordered to enter his defense on counts three and four only while being discharged of other counts.

Justice Mohammed, who cited sections of the Evidence Act, described relevance as logically connected and tending to prove or disprove a matter or an issue.

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