A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, refused an application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asking the court to physically inspect $9, 772, 800 (9.7 million dollars) and £74, 000 allegedly recovered from the residence of the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engineer Andrew Yakubu, in 2017.
The EFCC wants the court officials to go into the vault of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kano branch, where the funds are said to be lodged, to inspect it.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, however, declined the anti-graft agency’s application on the grounds that it was not necessary for the prosecution to come up with such request while the case was ongoing.
THE WHISTLER reported that the EFCC made the request through its lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar, in the non-declaration of assets and money laundering suit filed against Yakubu by the commission.
Recall that in February 3, 2017, operatives of the EFCC had invaded Yakubu’s Kaduna residence and reportedly found the said cash.
But Abubakar told the judge that the court needed to go to the financial institution in Kano and inspect the cash so as to determine if they were proceeds of crime or not.
He also argued that the prosecution could not bring the money to Abuja for security concerns.
But the defendant’s counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN, objected to the application, saying that the condition of the cash could have been altered by the complainant and that his client will be “prejudiced” if the EFCC application is granted.
However, he observed that a visit to the CBN is purely at the discretion of the court.
After listening to their arguments, Justice Mohammed said the EFCC’s request had no basis.
“It is clear to my mind that a visit to the bank is at the discretion of the court…
“I find no basis in the request by the prosecution to visit the bank… I find it unnecessary, consequently, this application is hereby refused,” he said.
Having overruled the application, the EFCC lead counsel, represented by Halima Shehu, asked for an adjournment to enable them continue with cross-examination.
But Raji SAN contended, adding that EFCC was trying to delay the hearing of the case.
Nevertheless, the trial judge said although it was expedient not to delay hearing, he was of the view that if the court had decided to travel to CBN for inspection, it would have adjourned proceedings too.
As such, he adjourned to 10th of March for continuation of cross examination of the defendant.
“This court is inclined to accept the prosecution’s application for adjournment,” he said.
The refused motion of the EFCC partly read: “Finding out the nature, condition and packaging of the cash sums of USS9,772,800 (nine million, seven hundred and seventy two thousand, eight hundred United States dollars) and £74,000 (seventy four thousand, British pound sterling) will be relevant and in the determination of counts 3 and 4 presently pending before the Court and thereby meeting the justice of the case and the overall interest of justice.”