Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed, of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has reserved ruling till April 15 on the application brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, seeking to amend the charges against the former Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu.
At the resumed hearing today, March 10, the prosecution had sought leave of Court to file an amended six count charge against the defendant.
The prosecution counsel Halima Shehu prayed the Court to grant the application. “We have an amended charge dated March 8, 2021 and served on the defendant through his counsel but his counsel however refused service, ” she said.
The defence counsel, Aliyu Usman, informed the court of the reasons they had for refusing service. He said on April 24, 2020, the Court of Appeal made an order to guide further proceedings in this matter, that the defendant is to enter his defence only in respect of two counts.
“It is only in respect of counts three and four that there is prima facie case to answer, we are bound by the appeal”, he intimated.
He urged the court to refuse the application, and allow the defendant continue with his testimony.
But Shehu, in her response, argued that “the law allows the prosecution to amend charges at any stage of the proceedings before judgement.”
Relying on an authority from Nigeria Weekly Law Report, on a Supreme Court judgment, she noted that “any Court may alter or add any charge before judgment is given”.
Yakubu was arraigned in 2017 before Justice Mohammed on a six-count charge that borders on failure to make full disclosure of assets, money laundering and intent to avoid a lawful transaction, having unlawfully transported, at various times to Kaduna, an aggregate sum of $9,772,800 and £74,000.
Four of the counts were struck out through a no case submission, leaving counts three and four.
One of the amended charges filed before the Court states, “That you Andrew Yakubu, while being the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation NNPC, sometime between 2012 and 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to avoid a lawful transaction under law, transported at various times to Kaduna, the aggregate sum of $ 9,772,800 (Nine Million , Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand , Eight Hundred United States Dollars) only when you knew or reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 7(4)(b)(ii) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 under punishable under Section 7(5) of the same Act”.