By Olalekan Awojodu
Former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu Wednesday told an Abuja High Court that the $9,772, 800 and £74,000 recovered in cash from him by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) were gifts from friends during occasions and celebrations.
Yakubu gave the testimony under cross examinations before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja.
On February 3, 2017, EFCC operatives, acting on a tip-off raided Yakubu’s house located on Chikun Road, Sabon Tasha area of Kaduna South Local Government Area of Kaduna State where the funds kept in a safe were recovered.
Earlier in the course of the trial, the presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed had ruled on an application in a request by EFCC seeking to display certain video evidences that were marked as exhibits M, N, and N1 against him in court.
“The defendant’s cross-examination would be done now,” Mohammed held.
While testifying further on Wednesday, Yakubu who was cross examined by the prosecution lawyer, Faruq Abdallah, said he had occasions to celebrate birthday and one or two things where the gift came as a result of those occasions.
He said, “Most of this money came after I left office in 2014. I had occasions to celebrate one or two things in my life where friends gifted me the money and this span up to between 2015 to late 2016 when I was celebrating 60 years birthday,”
“After my retirement, some of this money came from wedding of children, birthday celebration, tournaments and engagement taking on behalf, occasions from the department i served at NNPC across the country, launching of Foundation for Youths and Women empowerment in multi-skill training were some of the sources of the money.
“The friends that gave the donations are numerous and the show of love was overwhelming, so much that I cannot count or recall who they are,”
Yakubu also confirmed before the court that the premises where the money was found was his assets and property, added that he has used his office to project things that added values to his country Nigeria while it lasted.
Midway, the prosecution told the court that he needed to get the PW1 reaction on some footage but was constrained because the two documents he relied upon to carry out the task were not in court.
“I am constrained to go ahead with the cross examination for reasons I just explained above,” Abdallah said.
He then crave for an adjournment to have enough proof to enable him conclude the cross examination.
In his objection, Defence counsel, Ahmed Raji, SAN frowned at the prosecution request, alleging a deliberate attempt to prolong the proceedings.
“Despite the fact that ACJA provisions 306 has outlawed stay of proceeding in criminal trials, your Lordship, it is sad that they (prosecution) won’t stop asking for it coupled with all manners of applications which has kept the defendants in the box for over a year,” Raji held.
He then urged the Judge to refuse it in the interest of justice, arguing that it is also against ACJA provision.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed accommodated the application, adding: “I will not want to shut out the prosecution considering the need for witnesses”
Justice Mohammed has since adjourned the matter till the 29th July for trial continuation and cross examinations.
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