Alex Enumah in Abuja
Tamiu Abubakar, the first prosecution witness in the on-going trial of the former Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, on Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, gave a detailed account on howÂ the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recoveredÂ over $9million cash in Yakubuâ€™s Kaduna residence.
Yakubu was arraigned on a six-count charge of money laundering and false asset declaration.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Prince Ben Ikani, the witness,Â a police superintendent attached to the EFCC Kano Zonal office, told the court that a huge amount of $9,782,800 and 74,000 Pound Sterling was stacked in Bupapi fire proof safe with four panels in an unsuspected house belonging to Yakubu in Kaduna
Â Abubakar told the court that some time in February this year, Â EFCC Kano Zonal officeÂ received information that there was a house in Kaduna where a huge sum of money suspected to be proceeds of corruption was being keptÂ in in Sabon Tsah, Kaduna.
According to him, the information was then passed to theÂ Intelligence Special Operation Section (ISOS)Â whose duty it is to carry out investigations.
He disclosed that he was one of those assigned to carry out the investigation, adding that the team immediately proceeded to Kaduna to carry out their assignment.
â€œOn our arrival at the house, we metÂ the caretaker who identified himself as Mr. Bitrus Yakubu. We served the warrant on him but he said he did not have the key to the house so we invitedÂ a welder who came with breaking tools and unlocked the doors,â€ he said.
Abubakar stated further that a member of the team, Â one Suleiman Mohammed, did a video recording of the proceedings.
â€œWhenÂ the main door was unlocked, we moved in with the welder to the inner door and he also unlocked itÂ and we foundÂ a grey colour Bupapi fire proof save with four panels.
We asked Bitrus who turned out to be the brother of Yakubu who owned the save? He said it belonged to his brother Andrew Yakubu.â€
The witness said the team took Bitrus, the safe and a white SUV found in the compoundÂ to their office in Kano where in the presence of the zonal head of operation, other senior officials of the EFCCÂ and Bitrus, the safe was unlocked by key expert.
â€œIn the first panel we discovered pound sterling, we unlocked the other three panels and discovered thatÂ all contained money. The zonal head of operation then engaged the services of cashiers from a bureau de change who came with cash counting machines.
â€œThe counting was covered on video tape and money amounting to a total of $ 9,782,800 million and 74,000, Pounds Sterling. Â Bitrus confirmed the counting,â€ he said.
At this point, the prosecution lawyerÂ applied toÂ tender the safe and the defence lawyer AhmedÂ Raji (SAN) had no objection. The giant grey Bupapi fire proof save with four panels was admitted and marked as exhibit.
Equally admitted as exhibit was the search warrantÂ executed on Yakubu House and Andrew Yakubu voluntary statement.
The witness also told the court that after the money was counted, the legal unit of the EFCC applied and obtained an interim forfeiture order.
Abubakar said at the time of theÂ discovery, the defendant was out of the country on medical treatment abroad and that he returned immediately when he was contacted and he returned to the Kano Zonal office on 8 February.
Trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohamed, then adjourned the matter to May 24, for cross-examination of the witness.