A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has discharged and acquitted a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, of money laundering charge.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed ruled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Mohammed said that the EFCC had failed to prove the three ingredients of Section I of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act which it relied upon.
According to him, to sustain the conviction of the defendant (Yakubu) in this Act, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.
He described the vital ingredients in counts three and four which the anti-graft agency charged the ex-GMD to include receiving cash payment above N5 million, failure to go through a financial institution and that the defendant is a natural person.
“Though the EFCC called six witnesses against Yakubu, the ex-GMD, while demonstrating the ownership of the money allegedly laundered, said the money were received as gifts and goodwill from friends and well wishers after his retirement in 2014.
Mohammed said that Yakubu, while giving his evidence as first defence witness (DW1), said that the monies, which are in naira and foreign currencies, were received in bit not as a whole as alleged by the prosecution.
The judge held that the EFCC ought to have applied that Yakubu should mention the names of the donors and if possible, invite them for questioning but failed to do so.
The anti-graft agency had, in 2017, raided the residence of the ex-NNPC boss in Kaduna and found 9, 772, 800 dollars and 74, 000 pounds (9.7 million dollars and 74, 000 pounds) in a safe.
Yakubu was, however, arraigned on March 16, 2017, on six counts but the trial court struck out counts one and two.
The Court of Appeal also struck out counts five and six and ordered Yakubu to defend himself on counts three and four.
Counts three and four bordered on failure to make full disclosure of assets, receiving cash without going through a financial institution and intent to avoid a lawful transaction in alleged violation of Section 1(1) of the Money Laundering Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the Act.