The founder of Daar Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi, has been asked to return to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, pending the ruling on his application for bail on Monday.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, said the adjournment would help him look critically at the arguments presented by both counsel, since he had just been briefed on the matter, for the first time.
Counsel to Mr. Dokpesi, Mike Ozekhome, SAN, had asked the judge to rule on his earlier application for bail for his client.
He said his application included exhibits, A4 to A8 which made his client’s bail very necessary.
He listed the exhibits to include Mr. Dokpesi’s application to travel abroad, as well his ticket from British Airways, contained in exhibits A4 and A5, respectively.
He said the judge should disregard the argument of the prosecution which contended that other matters might arise.
“He is saying that there could be other charges in future relating to about N8.4 billion, involving a certain FIFA Under-17 World Cup,” Mr. Ozekhome said.
He called on the judge to avoid acting on speculation.
Mr. Ozekhome called the judge’s attention to the upcoming wedding of Mr. Dokpesi’s son, as well as the challenges he claimed to have experienced in reaching his client as other reasons the bail application should be granted.
He added that the defendant had the right to properly organise his counsel and witnesses in preparation of his case.
Mr. Ozekhome further argued that the alleged offences were ‘bail-able’ according to Section 16, sub sections nine, of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.
But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, said the defendant was not entitled to bail, based the materials provided by Mr. Ozekhome.
He asked the judge to look into the nature of the matter before him, including the evidences and consider the possibility of Mr. Dokpesi jumping bail.
He said there were ample evidence that N2.1 billion was paid through the account of the NSA to the defendant’s company for a campaign in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 general election.
The money, he alleged, was paid from funds allocated for the war against terrorism.
Mr. Jacobs added that there was evidence that the N2.1 billion was received between January 22 to March 15, 2015, during the election.
“Even if it was just a coincidence; what is the nature of the contract? Mr Jacobs asked, adding that there was no contract for the said sum”.
He also said in paragraph 12 of his brief of argument that Mr. Dokpesi allegedly received the sum of N8billion, and N47million during the Under-17 FIFA World Cup, in 2012, in a fraudulently organised contract.
Mr. Jacobs further argued that the letter of appointment for Mr. Dokpesi’s treatment abroad referred to by Mr. Ozehkome was sent on the December 5, when he was already in the custody of the EFCC.
He said exhibit A4 was also sent that same day, referring to the British Airways reservation ticket earlier mentioned by Mr. Ozekhome.
Mr. Jacobs said granting Mr. Dokpesi bail would compromise the ongoing trial.
He therefore asked Mr. Kolawole to refuse the application for bail.
After listening to arguments from both parties, Justice Kolawole adjourned till December 14, for ruling.
“The defendant shall have to return to the custody of the EFCC,” he said.
Mr. Dokpesi is facing prosecution for allegedly receiving N2.1billion from the office of the National Security Adviser for PDP’s presidential media campaign.
The money was allegedly disbursed from funds earmarked for the procurement of arms for the fight against insurgency.
He was arraigned alongside his firm, DAAR Investment and Holdings Limited, owners of African Independent Television, AIT and Raypower FM.
The funds, which were allegedly released to the accused persons between October, 2014 and March 19, 2015, were allegedly transferred from an account the office of the NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to a First Bank of Nigeria Plc account owned by DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited.
The offence was a breach of Section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (6) and (7) of the same Act, as well as under Section 17 (b) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
One of the counts reads:
“That you Dr. Raymond Dokpesi and Daar Investment and Holding Company Limited between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 in Abuja, conducted procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt act, to wit: receipt of payment into the account of Daar Investment and Holding Company Limited with First Bank of Nigeria Plc of public funds in the sum of N2,120,000,000 from the account of the office of National Security Adviser (NSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the funding of media activities for the 2015 presidential election campaign for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 58 (6) & (7) of the same Act”.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the counts preferred against him, and efforts by his counsel, Mr. Ozekhome to secure his bail was countered by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Jacobs, on the ground that the application was served on him shortly before the court started sitting.