By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja
A Federal Excessive Courtroom in Abuja has declined to halt additional proceedings within the trial of former Normal Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian Nationwide Petroleum Company (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu over alleged cash laundering offences involving about $9.8million.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling on Wednesday, famous that though each events have filed appeals earlier than the Supreme Courtroom, whose final result would seemingly affect the case earlier than him, he’s constrained, by advantage of the supply of Part 306 of the Administration of Legal Justice Act (ACJA), to proceed with listening to within the case as ordered by the Courtroom of Enchantment.
Justice Mohammed famous that the supply of Part 306 of the ACJA and the choice of the Supreme Courtroom n the case of Olisa Metuh v. the Federal Republic of Nigeria have successfully outlawed the grant of keep of proceedings in legal circumstances on grounds of the submitting of an interlocutory attraction.
The choose famous that though each events within the case have been dissatisfied with the April 24, 2020 judgment of the Courtroom of Enchantment in Abuja and has since appealed the choice; the courtroom can not do in any other case however to adjust to the provisions of the regulation.
He then adjourned until July eight for the defendant to enter his defence in respect of counts three and 4, which at the moment are left within the authentic six counts cost introduced towards him by the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee (EFCC).
Yakubu was arraigned on March 16, 2017 on a six-count cost of failure to make full disclosure of property, receiving money with out going via a monetary establishment, which borders on cash laundering and intent to keep away from a lawful transaction beneath regulation, transported at varied occasions to Kaduna, the mixture sum of $9,772,800 and £74,000.
The EFCC stated the cash was recovered by its brokers from a protected allegedly hidden by the defendant in a home in a neighborhood Kaduna State.
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On October 17, 2018 the prosecution closed its case after calling its seventh witness, Suleiman Mohammed (an EFCC operative) who gave proof relating to how the fee’s officers, on February 3, 2017, recovered $9,772,000 and £74,000 stashed in an enormous hearth proof protected in a constructing belonging to the defendant, situated at Sabon Tasha space of Kaduna State.
On the conclusion of the prosecution’s case, the defendant made a no-case submission, which Justice Mohammed partially upheld in a ruling on Could 16, 2019.
The choose struck out two of the six counts contained within the cost and ordered Yakubu to enter defence in relation to the remaining 4 counts.
Justice Mohammed stated: “I agree with the defence counsel that the prosecution has didn’t show the important factor of transportation of cash on counts 5 and 6. I accordingly discharge the defendant on counts 5 and 6.
“Though I’m tempted to discharge the defendant on counts one to 4, I’m nevertheless constrained to ask the defendant to clarify how he got here in regards to the monies recovered from his home.
“Fortified with my place, the defendant is hereby ordered to enter his defence in respect of counts one to 4.”
Somewhat than enter his defence as ordered by the courtroom, Yakubu appealed to the Courtroom of Enchantment, Abuja.
In a judgment on April 24, 2020, the Courtroom of Enchantment partially upheld Yakubu’s attraction.
A 3-man panel of the appellate courtroom held, amongst others, that the prosecution was unable; by the proof it led on the trial courtroom, to ascertain a prima facie case towards the defendant in relation to counts 5 and 6.
The Courtroom of Enchantment then struck out counts 5 and 6 from the cost and ordered the case be returned to the trial courtroom for Yakubu to enter defence in respect of the remaining two counts – counts three and 4.
On the point out of the case on Wednesday, prosecution lawyer, Mohammed Abubakar stated each events have appealed to the Supreme Courtroom, and that each appeals on the Supreme Courtroom have been entered and briefs of argument filed
Abubakar stated the attraction by the defendant is marked: SC/CR/223/2020, whereas that of the prosecution is marked: SC/CR/241/2020.
He added: “By the supply of Part 306 of the ACJA 2015 and the EFCC Institution Act 2004, utility for keep of prosecution shall not be entertained the place there may be an interlocutory attraction.
“Nevertheless, within the instantaneous case, no matter resolution the Supreme Courtroom would possibly arrive at will have an effect on this case in by some means.
“Nevertheless, I’m not making any utility for keep of proceedings in view of the supply of Part 306 of the ACJA,” Abubakar stated.
Responding, lead defence lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN) objected to the courtroom staying proceedings within the case.
Raji referred to the supply of Part 306 of the ACJA and the Supreme Courtroom’s resolution within the Metuh v. FRN case and stated: “I’m subsequently not stunned when Mr. Abubakar stated he isn’t making use of for keep of proceedings. I commend him.
“I might have beloved to get a keep of proceedings, as a result of my attraction has nice probabilities of succeeding, which might have made it pointless for the defendant to enter defence in respect of the 2 remaining counts.
“Due to this fact, as a member of the Inside Bar, I owe it an obligation to behave, always, in accordance with the state of the regulation.
“We’re subsequently compelled to adjust to the subsisting order of the Courtroom of Enchantment, mandating the defendant to state his facet of the story in respect of counts three and 4,” Raji stated.