A Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to immediately transfer the sums of $9.8 million and £74,000 recovered from Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to an account under the control of the chief registrar of the court.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that he found that the EFCC and CBN have not been forthright in the matter.
He said: “Therefore, the proper order to make in this case is that which can assure all parties that the sums are in the custody that can make them retrievable by any of the parties entitled thereto eventually,” pending the determination of the appeal lodged by the Federal Government against the decision of a sister court.in suit number: FHC/ABJ/CR/43/2017.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Yakubu had sued the commission, CBN and the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively over an alleged refusal to release his $9,773,200.00 and £74,000.00 after a court judgement acquitted him of fraud charges.
On February 3, 2017, operatives of the EFCC raided the property of the former NNPC chief in Kaduna and recovered $9.8 million and £74,000 stashed in a fire-proof safe.
He was alleged to have omitted the monies from the EFCC asset declaration form given to him to fill in 2015.
Yakubu was arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a FHC, on March 16, 2017, on a six-count charge bordering on money laundering and false declaration of assets.
However, in March 2022, the judge discharged and acquitted Yakubu of the charges.
Meanwhile, in the originating summons, marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/231/2023, and filed before Justice Ekwo, another judge, Yakubu through his counsel, Ahmed Raji, asked the court to determine whether the EFCC ought to still have in its custody his seized monies after the judgment
He prayed the court for an order directing the defendants to immediately release the monies to him pending the determination of the EFCC’s appeal.
Alternatively, Yakubu wants an order directing the defendants to immediately transfer the said monies into an account under the control of the FHC’s chief registrar or into an account to be operated by the chief registrar, the EFCC, and him, pending the determination of the appeal.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo held that the order that any sum of money be paid into account maintained by the chief registrar of the court was usually made following the facts and circumstance of the case.
He said: “Such an order does not by any measure give advantage to any of the parties.
“It is neither res novo nor new law for the court to make an order for any sum of money in contention between the parties to be kept in a neutral account pending conclusion of proceedings.
“Parties who truly seek justice in their matter are more assured where the court makes an order that ensures the neutrality of the custody of the funds which form the res of the cause of action.”
According to him, the justice of this case demands that the 1st and 2nd defendants produce the sums in contention in this case and place the same in the custody that assures everyone of its existence, safekeeping and accessibility by any person so entitled at the conclusion of the appeal.
“It is on this ground and the other grounds which I have considered in the cause of this judgement that I find that the plaintiff has made a compelling case on the merit and ought to succeed and I so hold,” he said.