Former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Andrew Yakubu has asked a Federal High Court in Kano to set aside the order of forfeiture granted the Federal Government on the sum of $9.8 million recovered from his Kaduna house.
The former NNPC boss wants the court to set aside the order and return the $9,772,800 and £74,000 on the ground that the law relied upon is unconstitutional, and the court lacked the jurisdiction to make the forfeiture order.
Counsel to Yakubu, Ahmed Raji (SAN) in motion filed before the court, claims the court lacks the territorial jurisdiction to entertain the matter being one related to “a crime alleged to have been committed in Abuja outside the territorial jurisdiction of this noble court.”
In a motion on notice with suit number FHC/ICN/CS/24/2017, Raji argued that by Section 45 of the Federal High Court Act, an offence shall be tried only by a court exercising jurisdiction in the area or place where the offence was committed.
“No aspect of the perceived offence in respect of which the Order of 13th February, 2017 was made, was committed within the Kano judicial division of this Honourable Court,” he said.
He said the Federal Government lacks the competence (locus standi) to seek the interim order of the court granted on 13th February, 2017.
“By Section 28 of the EFCC Act, only the commission, i.e. the EFCC has the vires to seek an Order for the interim forfeiture of property under the Act. The power of this Honourable Court to make interim forfeiture Order(s) pursuant to Sections 28 & 29 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004 (hereinafter “EFCC Act”) is applicable ONLY to alleged offences charged under the EFCC Act and not to offences cognizable under any other law.
“The ex-parte Order of this Honourable Court dated 13th February, 2017, was made in respect of alleged offences under the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission Act (hereinafter “ICPC Act”) and not the EFCC Act as prescribed by Section 28 & 29 thereof.
“The conditions precedent to the grant of an interim forfeiture Order under Sections 28 & 29 of the EFCC Act were not complied with by the Applicant before the Order was made”, Raji argued in the motion.
He further argued that the combined effect of Sections 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act is that a charge alleging infractions against the provisions of the EFCC Act ought to be brought against a suspect before the powers of this Honourable Court under Sections 28 & 29 of the EFFCC Act, to order interim forfeiture of property, can be actuated.
He said that without a formal charge, no prima facie evidence can be established in order for the provisions of Section 28 and 29 of the EFFCC Act to be actuated.
“In the instant case, no charge was brought against the respondent/applicant before the provisions of Section 28 and 29 of the EFCC Act were activated to grant the ex-parte Order of 13th February, 2017.
No date has been fixed for hearing.