By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja – The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned the trial of former Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu, until Feb. 20.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who gave the order, said the move was to afford the defendant the opportunity to open his French.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Mr Yakubu was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is standing trial for six-count charge bordering on money laundering offence and false declaration of assets.
Yakubu had filed a “no-case” submission on Dec. 5, 2018, through a lawyer, Anone Usman, who stood in for his counsel, Ahmed Raji.
He had asked the court to strike out the charges against him and acquit him of any wrongdoing.
The defence counsel had argued that the evidence led by the prosecution’s seven witnesses did not establish a case against the former NNPC boss, noting that there was nothing for him to defend.
However, the prosecuting counsel informed the court that he had filed a written address dated Jan. 15, 2019, in respect of the application of the former NNPC GMD which was dated Nov. 6, 2018.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Counsel to the EFCC, Hadiza Afegbua, told the court that the commission was ready for trial continuation.
However, Counsel to Andrew Yakubu, Peter Nwatu, sought for more time to open their defence.
Nwatu said the defendant’s witnesses were unwilling to come and testify in the court unless they were compelled by the court.
He said it was on that basis that he would want to file an application for subpoena so as to compel the witnesses to appear in court.
Afegbua, who objected to the application for adjournment, said it was on record that all the adjournments in this case from the time the court had asked the defendant to open his defence had not been taken seriously.
She argued that the defendant should have come along with the application in order to speedy trial.
Justice Mohammed, who agreed with the EFCC’s lawyer, told the defendant’s counsel to take the matter seriously.
“Mr Nwatu, you need to sit up. You know your witnesses, you can file the application this week.
“I advise the defence to sit up,” he said.
Justice Mohammed, therefore, adjourned the matter till Feb. 20 for the defendant to open his defense.
NAN reports that the EFCC had, on Feb. 3, 2017, based on intelligence report, raided Yakubu’s house located at Chikun Road in Sabin Tasha area of Kaduna State.
During the raid, operatives of the anti-graft agency recovered $9,772,800 and £74,000 stashed in a huge fireproof safe, which Mr Yakubu said were gifts given to him by friends and well-wishers.