The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has gone to the Federal High Court Abuja, seeking to amend the charges it filed against a former Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu.
The anti-graft agency had dragged Yakubu before Justice Ahmed Mohammed in 2017 on a six-count charge of fraud, after he admitted owning over $9.8 million cash found in a house which also belongs to him in Kaduna State.
But at the resumed trial yesterday EFCC’s prosecution counsel, Ms. Halima Shehu, informed the Court of the application for amendment of the charge.
“My Lord, the matter today is for continuation of trial; however, we have an amended charge dated March 8, and filed on March 10, 2021. The application is brought pursuant to Section 216(1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015. We humbly apply for the application to be granted for us to amend the charge,” she said.
She told the trial judge that she had tried to serve the amended charge on Yakubu through his counsel, AA Usman, but he refused service. Usman admitted before the Court that he refused service of the application to amend the charge.
“I do confirm that we refused service of what has been described as an amended charge this (Wednesday) morning. We did so with reasons”, Usman said.
According to him, the April 24, 2020, judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, had provided a guide on the trial.
The case was remitted back to the trial court for the appellant to enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge, and not counts 3 and 4 of an amended charge.”
Usman also submitted that the Court and parties in the matter were “bound to give effect to the order of the Court of Appeal which is extant.”
He told the Court that the purpose of the amended charge was “to undermine” the appeal before the Supreme Court in respect of the matter.
Yakubu’s lawyer insisted that the proposed application by the EFCC counsel was a deliberate attempt to delay proceedings in the trial.
“I urge the Court to refuse the proposed amendment and direct that the defendant who has finished testifying in chief and is being cross-examined be directed to enter the witness box to continue his evidence. The amendment is pre-judicial to say the least”, Usman said.
But Shehu told the court, “My Lord, my colleague cannot speculate about an amended charge before the court, which he has confirmed to the court that he refused service. Therefore, he cannot turn around and object to an application he has not sighted.”
Justice Ahmed Mohammed fixed April 25 for ruling and continuation of trial.