$9.8m gifts: Judge’s ill health stalls ex-NNPC GMD fundamental rights hearing
Hearing of the fundamental human rights suit instituted by Mr Andrew Yakubu, former Group Managing Director, NNPC, against the EFCC was on Thursday cut short following the judge’s ill health.
At the resumed hearing in the Federal High Court, Abuja, trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, after listening to submissions made by Yakubu’s counsel, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), complained about his swollen leg.
He expressed concern that since the condition of his leg was bad, he would not be able to continue with proceedings and subsequently adjourned to March 14 for continuation.
Before the adjournment, Raji told the court that Yakubu, who reported to the EFCC since Feb. 8, had been in detention and had not been charged to court.
He urged the court to disregard claims of the anti-graft agency that Yakubu’s continued detention was as a result of the ongoing investigation.
“The question to be asked is that can’t an investigation go on without a detention? It is my humble submission that investigation does not necessarily warrant detention as a mere allegation cannot justify incarceration.
“The constitution has provided a limited number of days for detention after which the suspect is to be charged to court or allowed to go.
“I submit that the purported warrant of arrest exhibited by the EFCC is irregular and constitute a gross abuse of proceedings of the court,” he said.
He prayed the court to discountenance the warrant and grant all the prayers Yakubu sought in his application.
Mr Johnson Ojogbane, Counsel to the EFCC, opposed to the Abuja division of the court hearing the matter on the grounds that it lacks territorial jurisdiction.
Ojogbane maintained that the facts relevant to the case took place in Kano which was outside the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“The alleged breached took place in Kano and the right place to institute a fundamental rights action is in Kano,” he said.
It was at this point that the judge adjourned the matter on the grounds of ill health.
The EFCC had in a raid on Yakubu’s house located on Chiku road, Sabon Tasha area, Kaduna South Local Government Area, recovered the sum of $9,772,800 and another £74,000.
Yakubu who had since Feb. 8 been in EFCC custody approached the court through his counsel with a breach of fundamental human rights suit challenging his continued detention by the EFCC.
The former NNPC boss prayed the court for a declaration that he was entitled to the dignity of his person, personal liberty, freedom of movement, private and family life as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
Yakubu joined the EFCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation as first and second respondents in the suit.
He also prayed the court to declare that his continued detention by the EFCC without charging him to court or allowing him to complete his medical procedure in the United Kingdom was a violation of his rights.
He asked the court to award N1bn in his favour against EFCC as damages and compensation for violation of his rights and to also compel the respondents to tender a public apology to him in two widely published national daily newspapers.
He also prayed the court for an order enforcing his rights to personal liberty, dignity of human person, freedom of movement, private and family life.
This, he said, was by directing his immediate release from EFCC custody or admitting him to bail on liberal terms and allowing him to complete his medical treatment in the United Kingdom.
Yakubu also prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC from further detaining him unlawfully.
However, in its opposition to the application, the EFCC through a counter affidavit deposed to by one Waziri Adamu averred that investigation to the allegations against Yakubu was ongoing.
The counter-affidavit further said that the interim findings revealed that the monies found in Yakubu’s house were not gifts but were suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The EFCC said that at the time Yakubu was GMD of NNPC, he was a public officer and there were existing laws that barred public officers from accepting such gifts under any guise.