Chris Steven, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday granted bail to the former Group Managing Director, GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation , NNPC, Andrew Yakubu in the sum of N300 million and two sureties in likes sum.
The former NNPC GMD is being prosecuted by the Federal Government before Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed on a 6-count charge, bordering on financial corruption, false asset and money laundering.
Ruling on Yakubu’s application for bail filed by his counsel, Ahmed Raji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Justice Mohammed said one of the two sureties to Yakubu must have a landed property worth the amount of the bail bond and that the two sureties must swear to an affidavit of means.
Part of the conditions for Yakubu’s bail, according to the judge is that the sureties must submit their international passports along with two passport photographs with the registrar of the court and that the second surety must be a resident of Abuja.
He must also summit his international passport with the court and must not travel outside the country with the permission of the court.
Justice Mohammed, while delivering his ruling on the bail application held that the defendant (Yakubu) is entitled to bail under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) and agreed with the defence counsel that the defendant will not jump bail if granted.
“I have read the summons for bail, written address, affidavit and all the exhibits filed by the defendant as well as the counter affidavit of the prosecution counsel, and I have come to the conclusion that the defendant will attend his trial if released on bail”, he said.
On the prayer for the release of the defendant’s international passport, the judge held that the court is not concerned about that but on whether the defendant is entitled to bail.
The matter was adjourned till May 9, 2017 to commence trial.
Justice Mohammed had last Thursday ordered Yakubu’s remand in prison custody after hearing arguments by the prosecution counsel, Prince Ben Ikani and defence counsel on his bail application dated March 13, 2017 and filed same day.
Earlier, Yakubu had pleaded not guilty to all the charges preferred against him by the Federal Government; a development that made the prosecution counsel to request for date for commencement of his trial.
Raji applied to the court for the bail of his client, urging the court to grant his client bail, “on self recognizance and/or in the alternative, admit him on bail on very liberal terms”.
Raji also prayed the court to order interim release of the defendant’s international passport to enable him travel abroad for medical treatment.
Raji posited that Yakubu was about to treat prostate cancer in the United Kingdom which he cut short to honour the invitation of the EFCC.
Adducing further reasons for Yakubu’s bail, Raji said, “By combined provisions of Sections 158-165 of ACJA, except in capital offences, an accused is ordinarily entitled to bail”.
In his opposition, counsel to the EFCC urged the court not to grant bail to Yakubu on “self recognizance”, adding that, the medical reasons cited by the defence could not hold water and that, “While under our custody, EFCC monitored his health daily. We have facility and we have been taking care of him.
“We have better medical facility all around Abuja. That he is sick and wants to go on medical treatment abroad is like a fairy tale because there is no report of experts to ascertain his health status.
“But if the court is mindful of granting their request, we submit that court applies stringent conditions to make him appear for trial. We plead the court to refuse granting the defendant bail on self recognizance” Prince Ikani said.
After hearing the application, the court adjourned till yesterday, to decide the bail application of the defendant.
Count one stated that the former Group Managing Director of NNPC on or before 18 August 2015, at the office of the EFCC knowingly failed to make full disclosure of his assets, to wit; the sum of $9,772,800 only in his assets declaration form he filed on August 18, 2015.
The EFCC said the offence ran contrary to Section 27 (3)(a) of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, and punishable under Section 27 (3)(c) of the same Act.
In count two, the EFCC alleged that the former Group Managing Director of NNPC on or before 18 August 2015, at the office of the EFCC knowingly failed to make full disclosure of his assets, to wit; the sum of 74,000 Pounds sterling in his assets declaration form he filed on August 18, 2015.
The offence according to the EFCC violated Section 27 (3)(a) of the EFCC Establishment Act 2004, and punishable under Section 27 (3)(c) of the same Act.
Similarly, the Federal Government alleged that between 2012 and 2014, in Abuja, the former NNPC boss without going through a financial institution, received cash payment of $9,772,800 contrary to Section 1 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011 as amended in 2012, and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of same Act.
EFCC said Yakubu knew or reasonably ought to have known that the said funds formed part of proceeds of unlawful activity.