By Mustapha Hodio
But for the recent discovery of about $9.7million in his house, the embattled former managing director Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, would have gone scot-free in money laundering charges slapped against him by the EFCC last year.
On June 20, 2016, the anti-graft commission arraigned Mr. Yakubu alongside business man, Jide Omokore, Victor Briggs, Abiye Memnere, David Mbanefo, Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited and Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Limited before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja on a four-count charge of money laundering.
Mr Yakubu was the GMD of the NNPC between 2012 and 2014 when Atlantic Energy paid only $168m into government account, but lifted $350 million worth of crude, just as it lifted $240million worth of crude by paying $68million the following year.
According to investigators, in 2014 the same company paid zero cash-call but lifted about 500,000 barrels of crude oil, valued at $54 million.
Credible security sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that after the release of Mr Yakubu on bail on July 4, 2016, he allegedly struck a deal with the secretary of the EFCC, Emmanuel Aremu, to drop charges against him and turn him a witness in the case.
Sources said the commission secretary, who ordinary has nothing to do with the operations, initially made several attempts to persuade the investigators handling the case to drop charges against Mr Yakubu but failed.
Insiders said Mr Aremu then connived with the “external solicitors” of the commission to convince Mr Magu that charges be dropped against Mr Yakubu “in order to get conviction of other accused persons”.
“Of course it is logically correct to drop charges against one of the accused in order to get others convicted, but in this case everybody knows there some deals behind the scene.
“Once you have ‘connection’, you can easily get soft landing,” said a source.
On June 1, 2015, charges against a former governor of Bayelsa State Timipreye Sylva were dropped despite allegedly diverting N2billion worth of properties and resources belonging to the state between 2009 and 2010 when he was the governor.
Hassan Tukur, the Principal Private Secretary to former President Goodluck Jonathan enjoyed a similar privilege despite allegedly diverting $35million meant for negotiating the release of Chibok schoolgirls.
Sources in the EFCC said there is strong indication that the commission may no longer present Mr Yakubu as witness but as accused in the previous case. “His testimony as a witness will be questioned because he is tainted,” said a source familiar with the working of the commission.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, did not pick several calls to his mobile numbers.