THE former Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi and his Daar Investment and Holdings Company Limited will on November 12, 2018 know if they will be required under the law to enter defence on the allegation of money laundering and procurement fraud involving the sum of N2.1 billion which they allegedly received from the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Mohammed Dasuki (rtd) between January and March 2015.
The trial Judge, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja, handling the matter fixed the date on Friday after prosecution and defence counsel had made their final submissions on the no-case-submission application filed by Dokpesi.
After the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), prosecuting Dokpesi and his company on behalf of the Federal Government had closed its case on May 28, 2018, after calling 14 witnesses, Dokpesi indicated readiness to file a no-case-submission.
At a resumed hearing on Friday, Dokpesi’s lead counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) asked the court to discharge his client and his company because the prosecutor failed to prove any element of the offence levelled against them.
Agabi, while arguing the no case submission, posited that out of the seven-count charge, counts 1 to 4 border on money laundering, adding also that no offence was committed by the defendants because the proceeds are legitimate.
“I submit that money in the account of the National Security Adviser, and Central Bank of Nigeria are not proceeds of crime and when it is spent for any purpose whatsoever, the NSA is not trying to launder it,” Agabi noted and submitted that the essential ingredients of the money laundering offence have not been established.
“A payment was made by Col. Dasuki and his name was specifically mentioned, which implies that he was the person laundering the account.
“The accused are not the launderers but Dasuki. If the money launderer is Col. Dasuki, why was he not charged,” Agabi queried and added that: “If the objective of the prosecution is to adjudge a man guilty when he has not appeared before this court, you are not that kind of judge.
“If a witness who ought to be called by the prosecution is not called, it means that his evidence is detrimental to the prosecution. If you uphold these submissions, then, you must dismiss counts 6 and 7 because they are rooted in counts 1 to 4. You cannot build something on nothing,” Agabi insisted.
He contended that there was a fundamental inconsistency the judge must not fail to observe and that was the fact that, whereas the funds stashed in CBN as stated in counts 1 to 4 are considered illegitimate, in counts 6 and 7, the same funds became legitimate for the procurement of arms.
“So, if the funds are legitimate as stated in counts 6 and 7, then, they should not be regarded as proceeds of crime,” the defence counsel said.
“The prosecution called 14 witnesses, and all that the PW1 said was that money was paid into the account of 2nd defendant, he did not incriminate the defendants in any way saying that, the 2nd defendant had testified that he made the payment at the instance of the NSA but that, since the purpose was not stated, he put the purpose by himself.
“PW 3, a staff of First Bank simply said the defendants’ bank with them and banking is a legitimate business and not an offence. PW 4, a staff of Top Rank Hotel said he reserved an accommodation at the instance of the 2nd defendant, which again was not a crime.” Agabi pointed out and urged the court to dismiss the case as there was nothing in it.
In adopting his address, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, representing the EFCC argued that prosecution has made a very strong prima facie case against the defendants and urged the court to dismiss Dokpesi’s no case submission and order the defendants to enter their defence.
After adoption of addresses by counsel, Justice Tsoho fixed 12th November for ruling on the no case submission.
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