ABUJA, March 16 (Reuters) - The former head of Nigeria’s state oil company was charged in court on Thursday with money laundering and five counts of fraud, the country’s anti-corruption watchdog said.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said last month it had arrested Andrew Yakubu and seized $9.8 million from the former head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the northern city of Kaduna.
“Former GMD, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu who was arraigned today, March 16, 2017 before Justice A R Mohammed of the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, on a six count charge bordering on non disclosure of assets, money laundering and advance fee fraud,” the EFCC said in a statement.
Yakubu will remain in custody and reappear in court on March 21, it added.
Graft, particularly in the oil sector on which Nigeria relies, has taken large sums from the country’s coffers.
President Muhammadu Buhari rode to victory in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform after widespread anger at the plundering of the state under his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan. Some, however, have criticised the current administration’s efforts as ineffective.
The EFCC said last month it had raided a building belonging to Yakubu, who was group managing director of NNPC from 2012 to 2014 under Jonathan, and found the cash in U.S. dollars in a fireproof safe.
Yakubu said the money was a gift, but did not say from whom, and is now assisting the investigation, according to the EFCC’s statement from last month. (Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Camillus Eboh; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Toby Davis)