The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday re-arraigned a former Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, before a Federal High Court in Abuja on six counts of money laundering and other charges relating to procurement fraud.
The charges involve N2.1bn which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 to prosecute the Peoples Democratic Party’s 2015 presidential media campaign.
The re-arraignment followed the withdrawal of the case by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, from the former trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, and the subsequent transfer of the matter to Justice James Tsoho.
Dokpesi and his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, had earlier denied the charges when they were initially arraigned before Justice Kolawole on December 9, 2015.
The judge had subsequently on December 14, 2015, granted bail to Dokpesi in the sum of N200m with two sureties in like sum and fixed Wednesday (yesterday) for the commencement of trial.
However, the trial could not begin as earlier scheduled due to the need for the matter to start afresh as a result of the transfer of the case to another judge.
Appearing before Justice Tsoho on Wednesday, Dokpesi, whose defence team is now being led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), again denied the charges as he earlier did during his initial arraignment.
The prosecution, led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), accused Dokepsi and Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, of receiving, N2.1bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 for the PDP’s presidential media campaign in breach of provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the EFCC (Establishment) Act.
In the first count, the prosecution alleged that the defendants conducted “procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt act” through their receipt of the money for media campaign initiated through Daar Investment and Holding Company Limited’s account with First Bank of Nigeria Plc, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 58(4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under section 58(6) and (7) of the same Act.
The accused persons were also accused of entering into a “purported contract on presidential media initiative” and received the sum of N2.1bn “on the account of the purported contract without a ‘Certificate of No Objection, duly issued by the Public Procurement Bureau,” thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 16(1) (b), 4 and (5) of the PPA Act and punishable under Section 58 (c) of the same Act.
The prosecution also alleged that the defendants’ receipt of the money from the office of the NSA on the account of the “purported contract without any open competitive bidding for the said contract,” thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 16(1) (c) and (d) of the PPA and punishable under Section 58 (c) of the same Act.
In the fourth count, Dokpesi and his firm allegedly submitted “a purported proposal” for the said contract for the presidential media initiative and received payment of the N2.1bn on account of the contract ”without a written and comprehensive request” to them by the Federal Government of Nigeria, thereby committing an offence contrary to Sections 45(3) and 46 of the PPA and punishable under Section 58 (6) of the same Act.
In count five, the accused allegedly “took control” of the N2.1bn which they “reasonably ought to have known was a proceed of an unlawful act, to wit: fund obtained from corruption”, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) and 94)of the same Act.
In the sixth count, the defendants were accused of knowing that the sum of N2.1bn “directly represented the proceeds of criminal conducts” of the former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, a retired colonel and Director of Finance of the Office of the NSA, Shuaibu Salisu, in the form of a criminal breach of trust in respect of the money.
The prosecution alleged that the defendants, thereby, committed an offence punishable under Section 17(b)of the EFCC (Establishment) Act.
Dokpesi ended his plea on Wednesday by responding, “absolutely, absolutely and absolutely not guilty” to the last count when read to him.
Justice Tsoho granted a request by the lead defence lawyer, Olanipekun, to allow Dokpesi on bail in the same terms and conditions earlier granted him by Justice Kolawole.
The trial was adjourned till March 2 and 3.
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