A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday granted bail to a businessman and founder of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, in the sum of N200m with two sureties in like sum.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on December 11 arraigned Dokpesi along with his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Ltd., on six counts of money laundering and procurement fraud involving about N2.1bn which he allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser for the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential media campaign.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole in his ruling on an application by defence lawyers, Chiefs Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN), and Mike Ozekhome (SAN), ordered that Dokpesi be remanded in Kuje prison pending when he would fulfill the bail conditions.
The judge also ruled that one of the two sureties who must be an entrepreneur, must submit his or her title deed of a property worth N200m in any part of Nigeria and produce three years tax clearance certificate for preceding years up till 2015.
The judge, who ordered Dokpesi to deposit his passport and other travelling documents with the Deputy Court Registrar, Litigation, of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, said the other surety must be a serving or retired director in the federal or state government civil service or any of their agencies.
Such officer if still serving is required to produce a letter from his employer to show that he is still in service and if retired must produce the gazette of his retirement to show that he was neither compulsorily retired nor dismissed from service.
The two sureties are also required to swear to affidavit of means showing that they were worth more than the bail sums of N200m each.
Justice Kolawole who dismissed all the grounds of the prosecution’s objection to the bail application, also ruled that the two sureties must present their passport photographs to DCR Litigation.
He dismissed the argument of lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), who had contended that Dokpesi would interfere with witnesses if released on bail.
The judge said the allegation was speculative even as he held that the punishment of seven years upon conviction for the charges filed against the accused was not severe enough as to motivate him to jump bail.
He also held that the allegation by Jacobs that the accused was involved in reckless diversion of funds meant for security of the country was not present in any of the counts one to six.
“Again if the funds were diverted as it was alleged, the first defendant applicant was never appointed or functioned for the NSA. So how can he be alleged to have diverted the fund? This again brings me to the query I have earlier raised as to whether the trial of this incident can or ought to be undertaken in the absence of the officers or officer who occupied the office of the NSA as at when the offences in the charges dated and filed on December 8, 2015 were filed,” the judge said.
On the fresh allegation of a N8.4bn fraud levelled by the EFCC against Dokpesi, the judge said the accused must not be re-arrested but must be given at least 48 hours notice in writing inviting him with respect to the investigation.
The judge ordered that such an invitation should commence by 10am and must not go beyond 6.30pm.
He said when Dokpesi was expected to stay beyond 6.30pm the anti-graft agency must apply before the court through an ex parte application.
He said the guideline given the EFCC and other sister anti-graft agency was to ensure that the bail granted Dokpesi “is not rendered illusory under the pretence that the defendant is being re-arrested when he has been granted bail.”
The EFCC charged Dokpesi and his firm Daar Investments and Holdings Ltd. with fraudulent receipt of N2.1bn from the office of the National Security Adviser between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 for the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential media campaign in breach of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the EFCC (Establishment) Act.