APPEAL COURT ACQUITS DOKPESI ON N2.1B CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

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Former chairman of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, was on Thursday, discharged and acquitted by the court of appeal in Abuja on a N2.1 billion corruption allegations.

Dokpesi and his company, DAAR Investment and Holdings Ltd, were arraigned on a seven-count charge bordering on alleged procurement fraud and breach of public trust.

He is alleged to have received N2.1 billion from the office of the national security adviser (ONSA) between October 2014 and March 2015, during the tenure of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser, for services not rendered.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had called 13 witnesses in the course of the trial.

On November 21, 2018, John Tsoho, trial judge, had struck out Dokpesi’s no-case submission and ordered him to open his defence.

Aggrieved, Dokpesi approached the court of appeal seeking to upturn the trial court’s decision.

Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, justice of the appellate court, delivered judgment in the appeal on Thursday.

The judge held that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against the appellants.

“I am of the view that irrespective of the ingredients stated earlier and those by the appellants and the first respondent respectively, prior proof or establishment of the predicate offences in count 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the amended charge is sine qua non to the proof of the offences of money laundering specified in the said count,” she said.

“The predicate offence is an earlier offence upon which the offence being tried is based.

“The first respondent has woefully failed to show a prior establishment of the predicate offences in this case.

“Also, there is evidence to prove the conduct of the appellant and his lifestyle because that is another way of proving or establishing money laundering.

“As can be seen from the evidence on record, the first respondent has been unable to prove the predicate offences.

“It is clear that none of the offences was proven or established.

“The law is trite that the initial burden is on the prosecution to establish a prima facie case against the defendant before the pendulum will swing to the defendant to make his defence.”

She said the prosecution also failed to prove that the money received by the defendants was a “proceed of criminal breach of trust”.

The judge added that no case was made against the appellants to warrant them to enter their defence.

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