Alleged $9.8m fraud: EFCC seeks to amend charges against ex-NNPC GMD Yakubu

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Friday Olokor, Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has approached the Federal High Court Abuja, seeking to amend the charge filed against a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu.

Yakubu was arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on March 16, 2017 on a six-count charge of fraud, having admitted owning over $9.8 million cash found in a house which also belongs to him in Kaduna State.

During his resumed trial on Wednesday, EFCC prosecution counsel, Halima Shehu, informed the Court of the application for amendment of the charge.

“My Lord, the matter today is for continuation of trial, however, we have an amended charge dated March 8, and filed on March 10, 2021. The application is brought pursuant to Section 216(1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. We humbly apply for the application to be granted for us to amend the charge,” she said.

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Shehu said she tried serving the amended charge on the defendant (Yakubu) through his counsel, A.A Usman, but he refused service.

The Court of Appeal (Abuja Division) had on April 24, 2020, unanimously made an order guiding further proceedings in the criminal trial.

The Appellate Court had in its judgment on an appeal by Yakubu, ordered the appellant to go back to the trial court and enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge.

Yakubu’s lawyer, Usman admitted before the Court that he refused service of the application to amend the charge.

“I do confirm that we refused service of what has been described as an amended charge this (Wednesday) morning. We did so with reasons”, Usman stated, arguing that April 24, 2020, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, had provided a guide on the trial.

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He said, “The case was remitted back to the trial court for the appellant (Yakubu) to enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge, and not counts 3 and 4 of an amended charge.”

Usman also submitted that the Court and parties in the matter were “bound to give effect to the order of the Court of Appeal which is extant.”

He told the Court that the purpose of the amended charge was “to undermine” the appeal before the Supreme Court in respect of the matter.

Yakubu’s lawyer insisted that the proposed application by the EFCC counsel was a deliberate attempt to delay proceedings in the trial.

“I urge the Court to refuse the proposed amendment and direct that the defendant who has finished testifying in chief and is being cross-examined be directed to enter the witness box to continue his evidence. The amendment is pre-judicial to say the least”, Usman said.

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But Shehu told the court, “My Lord, my colleague cannot speculate about an amended charge before the court, which he has confirmed to the court that he refused service. Therefore, he cannot turn around and object to an application he has not sighted.”

She told the Court that the Appellate Court did not make any further order that would make the prosecution not amend the charge.

“Rather, the Court of Appeal ordered the defendant to enter defence on counts 3 and 4. We humbly urge the court to grant our application to amend the charge”, the EFCC lawyer pleaded.

Having taken arguments from both counsels, Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed April 25 for ruling and continuation of trial.

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