By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
A former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Andrew Yakubu has asked a Federal High Court in Kano to set aside the order of forfeiture granted to the federal government by the court on the cash sums of $9,772,800 and £74,000 that he had concealed in a fireproof safe at a residence in Kaduna.
In an application filed by his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN) the former NNPC boss said the court that granted the forfeiture order had no jurisdiction to do so.
He also contended that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which obtained the order from the court, did not follow the law in applying and securing the forfeiture order and it was liable to be set aside.
He therefore asked the court to set aside the order and return the cash sums of $9,772,800 and £74,000,000 to him.
His lawyer argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the matter, being one related to a crime alleged to have been committed in Abuja, outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Kano court.
In a motion on notice, Raji argued that by Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, an offence shall be tried only by a court exercising jurisdiction in the area or place where the offence was committed.
He said: “No aspect of the perceived offence in respect of which the order of 13th February, 2017 was made, was committed within the Kano judicial division of this Honourable Court.”
He also said the federal government lacked the legal competence (locus standi) to seek the interim order of the court granted on the 13th of February.
“By Section 28 of the EFCC Act, only the commission, i.e. the EFCC, has the vires to seek an order for the interim forfeiture of property under the Act.
“The power of this Honourable Court to make interim forfeiture order(s) pursuant to Sections 28 and 29 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 (hereinafter “EFCC Act”), is applicable only to alleged offences charged under the EFCC Act and not to offences cognisable under any other law.
“The ex-parte order of this court dated 13th February, 2017, was made in respect of alleged offences under the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission Act (hereinafter “ICPC Act”) and not the EFCC Act as prescribed by Section 28 and 29 thereof.
“The conditions precedent to the grant of an interim forfeiture order under Sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act were not complied with by the applicant before the order was made,” Raji argued in the motion.
He further argued that the combined effects of Sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act are that a charge alleging infractions against the provisions of the EFCC Act ought to be brought against a suspect before the powers of the court under Sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act before an order of interim forfeiture of property can be actuated.
He said without a formal charge, no prima facie evidence could be established in order for the provisions of Section 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act to be actuated.
“In the instant case, no charge was brought against the respondent/applicant before the provisions of Section 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act were activated to grant the ex-parte order of 13th February, 2017,” Raji argued.
EFCC arrested Yakubu, following the recovery of $9,772,800 and £74,000 cash from him early this month.
Yakubu is reportedly being detained at an EFCC facility in Kano.
The cash was allegedly hidden by the suspect in a fireproof safe at his brother’s house in the slums of Sabon Tasha area of the Kaduna metropolis.
Yakubu was subsequently arrested and taken to Kano for interrogation.
He was said to have admitted ownership of the money which he said was a gift.
He however did not name the givers.