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Seized N3bn Were Goodwill Gifts During Celebrations, Says Yakubu

andrewyakubuefcc

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

A former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, has restated his claim that the $9,772,800 and £74,000 recovered from where he kept them in a house in Kaduna last month were gifts he got over a period of time.

In an affidavit, which he filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday, the ex-NNPC boss however stated that the sums of money, which amounted to about N3bn, were not gifts he got “as a public servant or while he was a public servant”.

He explained that the funds were gifts he got through goodwill, which he enjoyed during various celebrations and ceremonies he hosted in a period of five years.

Yakubu, who left office as the NNPC GMD in August 2014, did not disclose the details of the ceremonies in the affidavit, but insisted that the money came from well-wishers and friends.

But the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has maintained that the money is part of proceeds of crime, adding that the ex-NNPC GMD did not declare them as part of his assets when asked to do so as far back as 2015.

A counter-affidavit by the EFCC, opposing a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Yakubu, stated, “That investigation into the allegations against the applicant (Yakubu) is ongoing and the interim findings reveal that the monies found in his house are not gifts but are monies suspected to be proceeds of crime.

“That the monies were purportedly given to him as gifts within 2010 and 2014 during which period he served as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

“That he was a public servant as of the time the purported monies were given to him.

“That in July 2015, the applicant completed an asset declaration form at the office of the first respondent (EFCC).

“That the money recovered from the Gubbai safe in the sum of $79,772,800 and another £74,000 was not declared in the aforementioned asset declaration form.”

On February 13, upon an ex parte application by the EFCC, Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Federal High Court in Kano granted an order of interim forfeiture of the money.

Following the recovery of the money from his house on February 3, Yakubu has since February 8, been on remand in the custody of the EFCC in Kano.

On February 20, the ex-NNPC GMD filed a N1bn fundamental human rights enforcement suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja against the EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation (first and second respondents) for allegedly detaining him unlawfully.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed had on Thursday fixed Thursday for the hearing of the suit.

Through his lead counsel, Mr. Ahmed Raji (SAN), Yakubu, on March 6, 2017 (Monday), filed “a further and better affidavit” in reply to the EFCC’s response to the suit.

In the said affidavit, the applicant denied the EFCC’s allegations, insisting that the money seized from him was not part of proceeds of crime but received as gifts during celebrations.

A lawyer in Raji’s law firm, Dolapo Kehinde, who deposed to the affidavit on Yakubu’s behalf, stated, “In specific reply thereto, the applicant (Yakubu) states that the monies in respect of which the applicant is being held by the respondents are ‘gifts and goodwill by well-wishers and friends’ given to him ‘during celebrations and ceremonies’ and not proceeds of crime’ as alleged’.

“Furthermore, I know that there is no investigation or ‘finding’ whatsoever by the first respondent that has proved contrary.”

The affidavit also stated that the applicant did not receive the money as a public officer or while serving as a public officer, but saved over a period of five years.

“In reply thereto, the applicant states that the monies concerned were not given to him as a public servant or while he was a public servant.

“The applicant humbly relies on Exhibit B hereof, where he is quoted as saying: ‘This was periodic savings for over five years’.”

It added that the EFCC, through its counter-affidavit, failed to justify “the unlawful detention of the applicant”.

In response to Yakubu’s fundamental human rights enforcement suit, the EFCC had filed  a counter-affidavit, in which it stated that the ex-NNPC GMD was not only being investigated for the money recovered from him but for other offences such as money laundering.

The counter-affidavit, deposed to by one of its investigating officers, Mr. Waziri Nitte, stated that with Yakubu’ description of the money recovered from him as gifts, he had violated other laws.

“The provision of Section 12 of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Act prohibits public officer from receiving gifts by virtue of his being a public officer,” the counter-affidavit stated.

The EFCC urged the court to dismiss the suit as “the applicant is using this application as a disguised attempt to frustrate investigation into this case.”

In an affidavit accompanying the main suit (the originating summons), Yakubu’s wife, Mrs. Sarah Yakubu, stated that her husband was undergoing medical treatment in the United Kingdom when the money was recovered.

She stated that her husband, whom she said was diagnosed of “a prostrate condition which may be terminal if not properly managed”, had to suspend his “medical procedure” in the UK in order to honour the EFCC’s invitation.

Sarah, who described Yakubu as the breadwinner of his family with many dependants, “has not been able to provide for his family, neither has he received any medical treatment with respect to the ailment he is suffering from”.

Mrs. Yakubu said her husband might die if not released from custody to enable him to attend to his health.

“I have consistently appealed to men and officers of the first respondent (EFCC) for the release of my husband because he is in excruciating pains and stands the risk of losing his life,” she stated.

She also accused the EFCC of instigating negative publicity against his husband on the Internet and through various media outfits.

She stated, “Notwithstanding the act that the respondents have not filed any charge against the applicant, they have continued to instigate wide publicity of the matters leading up to his arrest and detention.

“I also know that this negative publicity instigated by the respondents has adjudged the applicant guilty in the eye of the public without an opportunity of a fair hearing and in disrespect of the dignity of his person.”

However, the ex-NNPC boss had sought among other prayers a declaration that his continued detention, preventing him from travelling to the UK for the completion of his “medical procedure” was a violation or his rights to “dignity of his person, personal liberty, freedom of movement, private and family life as enshrined under sections 34(1), 35(1), (4) and (5); 37 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He urged the court to direct his release from the custody of the EFCC or grant him bail “on liberal terms and allow him to proceed to the United Kingdom for  completion of the medial procedure which he was undergoing there”.

He also sought an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents from further detaining him unlawfully “whether on reasons of suspicion or on on account of any purported investigation with respect to the allegations” for which he was being detained in breach of his rights.

He sought an order compelling the respondents to “tender public apology” to him in “two widely published national daily newspapers” and to pay to him N1bn as general damages for the violation of his rights as enshrined in the constitution.  (Punchng.com)

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