A former group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Andrew Yakubu, on Wednesday, told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja that the monies seized from him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were just gifts he received after his retirement from public service.
In February 2017, the EFCC had recovered $9.7 million and £74,000 from Yakubu’s Kaduna residence.
The agency subsequently charged him to court on six counts of money laundering.
Yakubu was alleged to have, as “group managing director of NNPC, between 2012 and 2014, within the jurisdiction of this court, with intent to avoid lawful transaction, transported to Kaduna $9.7million and €74,000.’’
The former NNPC GMD was also accused of failing to disclose the monies to the EFCC in his asset declaration form, a crime which contravened Section 27 (3) of the EFCC Act.
But while giving evidence as the first defence witness, Yakubu told the court that 97 to 98 percent of the sum were gifts he received during celebrations, which he hosted.
He said, “The money was not received in bulk but in tranches of not more than $10,000 and not more than £5,000. And a substantial part of the money was given to me after I left office.
“And it was given to me on the occasions of birthdays, thanksgiving services, weddings of my daughters and other celebrations that I hosted after leaving office.”
Yakubu explained that he kept the money in a safe at home because he had yet to take a decision on the business to go into after his retirement.
He said, “Because the money came unplanned, the plan was to think about the business venture I’ll embark on after retirement.
“I kept the money in the safe pending when there is a specific business venture I’ll embark on and as soon as that decision is crystallised, the business would be funded through a financial institution.”
Yakubu explained that the remaining two percent of the money was savings he got from estacodes.
He further told the court, “For over 25 years, I had reasons by virtue of my schedule, to travel to many parts of the world. So, I was entitled to estacodes in USD.
“And any savings made during a trip, I came back with whatever I had and saved it. The savings estimated time of start was around 2010 to 2014.”
Currently, Yakubu is standing trial on only two out of the initial six counts preferred against him.
The trial court had struck out two counts while the Court of Appeal struck out another two.
The former NNPC boss was then ordered to come back to the trial court to defend himself on the remaining two counts.
The case has been adjourned till July 22 for Yakubu’s cross-examination.