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$9.7m, £74,000 found in my possession were gifts I received –Ex-NNPC GMD

A former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu, told the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday that $9.7million and £74, 000.00 found in his Abuja home by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were special gifts from friends and associates.

Yakubu, who was arraigned by the commission on a six-count charge of money laundering, opened his defence on the matter Wednesday.

The ex-NNPC chief said he received the funds in tranches of not more than $10,000 and £5,000.

Officials of the EFCC which acted on a tip-off by a whistleblower in 2017, raided the defendant’s guest house situated at Sabon Tasha, Kaduna State, and recovered cash in foreign currencies.

The commission said during one of the hearings that it discovered $9.7million and £74,000 hidden by Yakubu in a fireproof safe inside the house.

The ex-NNPC GMD, who was led in evidence by his counsel, Ahmed Raji (SAN), told the court on Wednesday that people gave him monetary gifts during birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations he hosted after he left service.

He said: “Yes my lord, I confirm that the monies were contained in a safe taken from my property.

“As I stated in my statement with the EFCC, the money found in the safe is mine. The money was not received in bulk. It was received in tranches of not more than $10,000.00 and £5,000.00.

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“Substantial part of that amount was given to me after I left service. It was given to me on such occasions as birthdays, thanksgiving services, and other celebrations that I hosted after leaving my office.

“I also hosted marriages of my daughters. In fact, over 98 percent of the money came from gifts. The purpose of keeping the money was to think of business ventures I will embark on, but it was not my intention to go into a business investment without going through a financial institution.

“Since the money was given to me unexpectedly, I kept the money in safety, in a safe, pending when I decide on specific business venture to embark on. And as soon as the decision is crystalized, the business would be funded through the financial institutions.

“For over 25 years, I had reason by virtue of my schedule to travel to many parts of the world. I was entitled to estacodes in United States Dollars. Any savings I made during the trip, I came back and saved. The other 2 percent of the funds recovered from my safe was from such savings I made from travels.

“The prevailing rate of dollar at that time was average of N150 to a Dollar and N250 to Pound Sterling. That was about the bank rate at that time.”

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