ANDREW Yakubu, a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Wednesday told a Federal High Court that $9.7 million and £74, 000 found in his house in Kaduna were gifts he received from friends during occasions such as birthdays and thanksgiving services and others.
Accorditing to the Internation Center for Investigative Reporting, Yakubu is facing charges of money laundering and non-declaration of assets instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The EFCC had charged him with six counts relating to the sums of $9,772 and £74,000 recovered from his house in Kaduna State on February 3, 2017.
Operatives of the anti-graft agency had raided Yakubu’s house located at Chikun Road in Kaduna South Local Government Area from where about N3 billion was allegedly recovered.
Appearing before the court on Wednesday, the former NNPC GMD said he received the money in tranches of not more than $10, 000 and not more than £5, 000.
While testifying as his own witness, Yakubu said that the monies were contained in a safe taken from his property.
“Yes my lord, I confirm that the monies were contained in a safe taken from my property,” he told the court.
“Substantial part of that amount was given to me after I left service, it was given to me on such occasions as birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations that I hosted after leaving my office.
“I also hosted marriages of my daughters, in fact, over 98 percent of the money came from gifts.”
According to him, the monies were kept in the safe pending the time he would decide on which business he would invest it in.
“Since the money was given to me unexpected, I kept the money in safety, in a safe, pending when I decide on a specific business venture to embark on. And as soon as the decision is crystalized, the business would be funded through the financial institutions,” the former NNPC GMD said.
He said the other two percent of the recovered monies were funds he got from his travels to foreign countries.
“For over 25 years, I had reason by virtue of my schedule to travel to many parts of the world. I was entitled to estacodes in United States Dollars,” he said.
“Any saving I made during the trip, I came back and saved. The other two percent of the funds recovered from my safe was from such savings I made from travels.
“The prevailing rate of dollar at that time was average of N150 to a Dollar and N250 to Pound Sterling. That was about the bank rate at that time”. “When I was asked the time frame within which the safe was placed in the location, I told them that it was within 2010 to 2014.”
The trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed had struck out two of the charges in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CR/ 43/ 2017.
The sustained charges read that Yakubu had between 2012 and 2014, without going through a financial institution, received cash payments of $9, 772, 800 and £74, 000, and thereby committed an offense contrary to section 1 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under section 16(2) of the Act.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2017 before he was granted a bail of N300 million by the Federal High Court on March 16, 2017.
On Wednesday, while being cross-examined by the prosecution counsel, M.S. Abubakar, Yakubu, told the court that he joined NNPC in 1980 and became the Managing Director of a subsidiary of NNPC Warri Petrochemical & Refining Company in 2007.
“I was appointed the Executive Director in charge of Exploration and Production in 2011 at NNPC headquarters. “I became the Group Managing Director of NNPC in 2012 and retired in 2014”.
After Yakubu’s statement in the witness box, Justice Mohammed, adjourned the case to July 22 for his cross-examination by the EFCC counsel.
Credit: Lukman Abolade, Internation Center for Investigative Reporting