Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has discharged and acquitted the Chairman of DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, over alleged N2.1b fraud case.
Dokpesi was alleged to have received N2.1b from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) between October 2014 and March 2015 under Sambo Dasuki for services not rendered.
The three-man panel of justices of the court unanimously discharged the accused, stating that the Federal Government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) could not prove money laundering and criminal conspiracy case against the accused, even after the EFCC called 13 witnesses during the trial.
The Guardian recalled that on November 21, 2018, Justice John Tsoho had struck out Dokpesi’s no-case submission and ordered him to open his defence, but Dokpesi had approached the appellate court to seek reversal of the lower court’s decision.
Delivering judgment in the appeal, Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu of the appellate court, 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, 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 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 establishing money laundering. As can be seen from the evidence, the first respondent has failed 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 stated.
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