The Punch

$9.8m cash: Court rejects EFCC request on video during EX-NNPC boss trial

- Lesi Nwisagbo, Abuja

THE Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on wednesday, rejected an applicatio­n by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to play a video during the trial of the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporatio­n, Andrew Yakubu.

The EFCC had sought leave of the court, to play the video which was part of exhibits M, N, and N1 before the court.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed, while delivering his ruling on the request, held that only the maker of a document can be cross-examined on the content of a document.

Mohammed held that allowing the EFCC proceed would negate the precedents before the court.

He said Yakubu, who was not the maker of the video could not be cross examined on its content.

The prosecutio­n lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, while preparing to proceed with the crossexami­nation of the first defence witness, Andrew Yakubu, drew the court’s attention to a pending applicatio­n which he sought to move before the court.

The applicatio­n was dated June 18, 2021 and filed June 25, 2021. The applicatio­n was to the effect that the prosecutio­n was praying for the leave of the court to recall two of the prosecutio­n witnesses.

Yakubu’s lawyer, Ahmed Raji, SAN, objected to this, saying, “It is strange to interrupt a crossexami­nation with an applicatio­n that has nothing to do with the witness in the box. I urge my lord to direct him to finish crossexami­nation, then we can now move to other ancillary matters.”

He stated that it would set a dangerous precedent and urged the court to defer the hearing of the applicatio­n until the evidence of Yakubu, the Dw 1 has been concluded.

In response, the prosecutio­n lawyer stated that, “It is correct that the applicatio­n sought to be moved may not have a direct impact on Dw 1. However, it is the prosecutio­n’s prayer that since there is a pending applicatio­n before the court, it should be taken in the probable cause that the court grants the applicatio­n of the prosecutio­n, the court has the discretion to direct the prosecutio­n to recall the witnesses when it is deemed expedient.”

The court deferred the applicatio­n to recall witnesses and ruled that the cross-examinatio­n of Dw 1 should continue.

Justice Mohammed noted that allowing the applicatio­n to recall witnesses during the cross-examinatio­n would make things untidy.

During his cross-examinatio­n, Yakubu told the court that about 98 per cent of the recovered sums of $9,772,800 and £74,000 recovered from one of his properties came as gifts from the wedding of his child, his birthday, tournament­s, his empowermen­t foundation after he had left office between late 2014 and early 2016.

when asked by the prosecutio­n lawyer to name who the gifts were from, Yakubu told the court that he could not recall as the friends were numerous and the show of love on these occasions were overwhelmi­ng.

After listening to arguments from both parties, the court ruled that it was not inclined to grant the applicatio­n for adjournmen­t considerin­g the time that had been spent on cross-examinatio­n.

“However, since the prosecutio­n said he wanted to bring documents, they would be obliged in the interest of justice to do so,” Mohammed said.

The Court consequent­ly adjourned the case to July 29.

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