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Wednesday, December 9, 2015
EFCC charges Dokpesi with money laundering, others
John Alechenu, Everest Amaefule and Ade Adesomoju
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has preferred six counts of money laundering and procurement-related charges involving N2.1bn against the former Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.
The suit, containing the charges, numbered FHC/ABJ/CR/380/2015, was filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
Dokpesi and a subsidiary of Daar Communications, Daar Investment and Holding Limited, are the two defendants.
The charges arose from the N2.1bn the defendants allegedly collected from the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
The EFCC had arrested Dokpesi following an investigation into the interim report of a presidential committee on the procurement of arms and equipment for the Armed Forces and the defence sector from 2007 to date.
Dokpesi had, however, in a statement, said the money he collected from the NSA’s office was meant for publicity and media campaigns during the 2015 general elections, describing it as a contractual transaction.
In the charges, sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday, the prosecution said Dokpesi and his company had, by the deal, violated the provisions of the EFCC Act, Public Procurement Act and Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
The case, as of the time of filing this report on Tuesday, had not been assigned to a judge but our correspondent learnt that the arraignment of the defendants might take place before the end of this week.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the same Federal High Court in Abuja had on December 4, asked the EFCC to produce Dokpesi in court on December 14.
The judge made the order in his ruling on an ex parte application filed by Dokpesi’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).
The proceedings, during which the judge granted the order on Friday, held in the judge’s chambers and not in the open court.
Ozekhome, who informed journalists of the outcome of the proceedings, said the judge also ordered the EFCC to appear in court to show cause why he should not grant Dokpesi’s prayer for unconditional or conditional bail.
The senior advocate had argued that his client had been unlawfully detained by the EFCC beyond 48 hours.
Dokpesi, through his lawyer, had in the application, prayed for an order compelling the EFCC to produce him in its custody “or any other place of detention before this court on the date this application comes up for hearing”.
He also sought “an order admitting the applicant to bail on self recognition or on such favourable and liberal terms as this court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case, pending the formal arraignment of the applicant before a court of law.”
His prayers were anchored on the grounds that no charges had been formally instituted against him over 48 hours after his detention.
The applicant said he honoured a verbal invitation from officials of the EFCC on December 1 and had been detained since then after subjecting him to hours of “unprepared interrogation.”
He argued that the offences alleged against him “are ordinarily bailable.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has reiterated its commitment towards ensuring that those involved in plunging Nigeria into its current socio-political predicament, through reckless stealing, are made to answer for their crimes.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said this at a media briefing in Abuja on Tuesday.
He lamented that the looting of the nation’s treasury under the immediate past administration, adversely affected the capacity of the nation’s Armed Forces to deal with the Boko Haram menace.
On how much the alleged looting of the treasury under the immediate past government affected the anti-terrorism war, Mohammed said, “There is no doubt it did mightily. Bama was only liberated about four months ago when this administration came on board.”
This, he explained, was the outcome of renewed government commitment towards the anti-terror fight.
The minister said the troops were now better motivated as the morale of men in the theatre of operation had been significantly boosted.
Mohammed explained that it was a misconception for anyone to say government was slow in dealing with the trial of terror suspects and their sponsors.
He said, “The dilemma of the government is how do we redress past wrongs and injustices and at the same time not abuse the rights of people.
“What I want to assure you is that nobody, who was responsible for getting us into the situation we are today, either by stealing us blind or by sponsoring Boko Haram, will go unpunished; but we shall follow due process.”
The minister, who paid glowing tributes to the Nigerian Armed Forces involved in the anti-terror fight, also praised members of the civilian Joint Task Force for their bravery and assistance to the military.
He noted that the civilian JTF was particularly instrumental to identifying some of the terrorists recently arrested while trying to sneak into the camp of the Internally Displaced Persons.
The minister said the level of devastation of the North-East made it imperative for government to intervene to restore basic infrastructure for the inhabitants to return to their normal lives.
This, he said, was the reason behind moves to have a master plan to rebuild the North-East.
On the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Mohammed said, “The thing about government is that you inherit both the assets and liabilities. In the case of Chibok girls, I can assure you that the military, up untill now, is searching for them. We came in more than a year after the Chibok girls had been abducted.
“On Sunday, there was another onslaught on Sambisa Forest. There are few things that the military does that cannot be disclosed but I can assure you that the government is very concerned about the return of these girls.”
Nigeria, he said, owed the men and women in uniform a debt of gratitude for their patriotism, sacrifice and service.
The information minister added, “I say this because what I saw during my trip to Maiduguri, Konduga, Kaure and Bama last Saturday left me, and indeed all members of my entourage, in awe of the commitment and loyalty of the military to our country’s peace and unity.”
He maintained that from Maiduguri, where the Command and Control Centre as well as the headquarters of the 7 Division were based, his team saw committed men and women in uniform, starting from the highest echelon of the military to the lowest rung of the ladder.
He further stated that troops were now better equipped and their welfare given the attention it deserved.
“The morale of the troops is quite high and they are well equipped from what we saw, even though, I must say that the provision of platforms for the military is a continuous process.” Mohammed said.
He quoted the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Abayomi Olonisakin, as saying the military was working very hard to meet the December deadline to end the Boko Haram menace, adding that what he saw on the ground supported the position of the CDS.
Mohammed added, “In the entire stretch from Maiduguri to Bama through Konduga, a very important corridor that leads all the way to Banki and then to Cameroon and indeed the entire Central Africa, our troops stood ready day and night to prevent any further attacks on the communities along the way.
“These are communities that bore the brunt of the deadly attacks by Boko Haram, with Konduga in particular having been attacked about 28 times!
“It is a tribute to the ruggedness, professionalism, determination and loyalty to country of our gallant soldiers that those communities, especially Bama and Konduga, are now free from the Boko Haram.”
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