The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission yesterday approached the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja with an application seeking to amend the criminal charge filed against a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu. Yakubu was arraigned before Justice Ahmed Mohammed on March 16, 2017 on a six-count charge of fraud, having admitted owning over $9.8 million cash found in a house that also belongs to him in Kaduna state. At a resumed trial, the prosecution counsel, 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” the EFCC lawyer stated. The prosecution counsel said she tried serving the amended charge on the defendant (Yakubu) through his counsel, A.A Usman, but he refused service. It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, had on April 24, 2020, unanimously made an order guiding further proceedings in the criminal trial. The appellate court had in its judgment on appeal by Yakubu, ordered the appellant to go back to the trial court and enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge.
Responding, Yakubu’s counsel, 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 morning. We did so with reasons” Usman stated.
Usman posited that the April 24, 2020, judgment of the Court of Appeal Abuja, had provided guide on the trial. “The case was remitted back to the trial court for the appellant (Yakubu) to enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge, and not counts 3 and 4 of an amended charge” Yakubu’s lawyer argued. In addition, Usman submitted that the court and parties in the matter are “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 “is a deliberate attempt to delay proceedings in this trial.