By Vvian Okejeme, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) yesterday, entered application seeking to amend the criminal charge filed against a former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Andrew Yakubu.
The anti graft agency is trying Yakubu before the Federal High Court on a six-count charge of fraud having admitted owning over $9.8 million cash found in a house that also belongs to him in Kaduna state.
At a resumed trial, the prosecution counsel, Halima Shehu informed the court of the application for amendment of the charge.
She told Justice Ahmed Muhammed that the prosecution has tried serving the amended charge on the defendant (Yakubu) through his counsel, A.A Usman, but he refused service.
“My Lord, the matter today is for continuation of trial, however, we have an amended charge dated March 8, and filed on March 10, 2021.
“The application is brought pursuant to Section 216(1) and (2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
“We humbly apply for the application to be granted for us to amend the charge,’’ she submitted.
In his responds, the defence admitted before the court that he refused service of the application to amend the charge.
Giving his reasons, Usman posited that the April 24, 2020, judgment of the Court of Appeal Abuja, had provided guide on the trial.
“The case was remitted back to the trial court for the appellant (Yakubu) to enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge, and not counts 3 and 4 of an amended charge.’’
He further submitted that the court and parties in the matter are “bound to give effect to the order of the Court of Appeal which is extant”.
He told the court that the purpose of the amended charge was “to undermine” the appeal before the Supreme Court in respect of the matter.
According to the defence, proposed application by the EFCC counsel “is a deliberate attempt to delay proceedings in this trial.
“I urge the court to refuse the proposed amendment and direct that the defendant who has finished testifying in chief and is being cross examined be directed to enter the witness box to continue his evidence.
‘’The amendment is pre-judicial to say the least” Usman declared.
Reacting on points of law, the EFCC counsel, Halima Shehu told the court, “My Lord, my colleague cannot speculate about an amended charge before the court, which he has confirmed to the court that he refused service.
“Therefore, he cannot turn around and object to an application he has not sighted.
The appellate court did not make any further order that would make the prosecution not to amend the charge.
“Rather, the Court of Appeal ordered the defendant to enter defence on counts 3 and 4.
“We humbly urge the court to grant our application to amend the charge,’’ she concluded.
Meantime, the matter is adjourned till April 15, for continuation.
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal Abuja Division had on April 24, 2020, unanimously made an order guiding further proceedings in the criminal trial.
The appellate court had in its judgment on appeal by Yakubu, ordered the appellant to go back to the trial court and enter defence in respect of counts 3 and 4 of the charge.