By Abdul Usman
Andrew Yakubu, former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has told a federal high court in Abuja that the monies seized from him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), were gifts he received after he left public service.
The EFCC had in February 2017 recovered $9.7 million and £74,000 from Yakubu’s Kaduna residence.
He was subsequently charged to court and arraigned on six counts of money laundering.
He was alleged to have, as “group managing director of NNPC, between 2012 and 2014, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to avoid lawful transaction, transported to Kaduna $9.7million and €74,000.’’
Yakubu was also accused of failing to disclose the monies to the EFCC in his asset declaration form, a crime which contravened Section 27 (3) of the EFCC Act.
However, giving evidence as the first defence witness, the former GMD said 97 percent to 98 percent of the sum were gifts he received during celebrations which he hosted.
“The money was not received in bulk but in tranches of not more than $10,000 and not more than £5,000. And a substantial part of the money was given to me after I left office,” he said.
And it was given to me on the occasions of birthdays, thanksgiving services, weddings of my daughters and other celebrations that I hosted after leaving office.”
He said he kept the money in a safe at home because he was yet to figure out what business to venture into.
“Because the money came unplanned, the plan was to think about the business venture I’ll embark on after retirement,” he said.
“I kept the money in the safe pending when there is a specific business venture I’ll embark on and as soon as that decision is crystalised, the business would be funded through a financial institution.”
Yakubu explained that the remaining two percent of the money was savings he got from estacodes.
“For over 25 years, I had reasons by virtue of my schedule, to travel to many parts of the world. So, I was entitled to estacodes in USD,” Yakubu explained.
“And any savings made during a trip, I came back with whatever I had and saved it. The savings estimated time of start was around 2010 to 2014.”
Currently, Yakubu is standing trial on only two out of the initial six counts preferred against him.
The trial court had struck out two counts while the court of appeal struck out another two.
He was then ordered to come back to the trial court to defend himself on the remaining two counts.
The case has been adjourned till July 22 for cross-examination of Yakubu.