By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Media Mogul and Chairman Emeritus of Daar Communication PLC, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, on Friday told the Federal High Court, Abuja, that former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.) ought to be the one standing trial over allegations of corruption and money laundering and not him.
Dokpesi and his Daar Investment and Holdings Company Limited are currently standing trial on alleged monkey laundering charges to the tune of N2.1bn said to be obtained illegally and fraudulently from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in 2015.
The prosecution, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in proving its case against the defendants called 14 witnesses before closing its case on May 28, 2018.
However Dokpesi, responding, told the court of his intention to file a no-case-submission, adding that the prosecution had failed to establish any evidence of criminal act against him.
At a resumed hearing yesterday, Dokpesi, through his lead defence counsel, Kanu Agabi SAN, prayed the court to discharge him and his company from the charges because the prosecutor failed woefully to prove any element of the offence levelled against them.
Agabi posited that out of the seven-count charge, counts 1, 2, 3 and 4, bordered on money laundering.
He argued that no offence was committed by the defendants because the proceeds were legitimate.
“I submit that money in the account of National Security Adviser, and Central Bank of Nigeria are not the proceeds of crime and when it is spent for any purpose whatsoever, the NSA is not trying to launder it.
“In what manner did he obtain the money, assuming without conceeding that it was a proceed of crime, the essential ingredients of money laundering offence have not been established.
“A payment was made by Colonel Dasuki and his name was specifically mentioned, which implies that he was the person laundering the account.
“The accused are not the launderers but Dasuki. If the money launderer is Colonel Dasuki, are we going to condemn him behind his back, and if so, why was he not charged? Agabi queried.
“If the objective of the prosecution is to adjudge a man guilty when he has not appeared before this court, you are not that kind of judge.
“If a witness who ought to be called by the prosecution is not called, it means that his evidence is detrimental to the prosecution.
“If you uphold these submissions, then, you must dismiss counts 6 and 7 because they are rooted in counts 1 to 4. You cannot build something on nothing” Agabi insisted.
Agabi contended that there was a fundamental inconsistency the judge must not fail to observe and that was the fact that whereas the funds stashed in CBN as stated in counts 1 to 4 are considered illegitimate, in counts 6 and 7, the same funds became legitimate for the procurement of arms.
“So, if the funds are legitimate as stated in counts 6 and 7, then, they should not be regarded as proceeds of crime, the defence counsel said.
“The prosecution called 14 witnesses, and all that the PW1 said was that money was paid into the account of 2nd defendant, he did not incriminate the defendants in any way.
He said, “PW 3, a staff of First Bank simply said the defendants bank with them and banking is a legitimate business and not an offence.
“PW 4, a staff of Top Rank Hotel said he reserved an accommodation at the instance of the 2nd defendant, which again was not a crime.
After adumbration, Agabi urged the court to dismiss the case as there was nothing in it.
In adopting his address, Oluwaleke Atolagbe, representing the EFCC argued that prosecution had made a very strong prima facie case against the defendants.
“We adopt our written address and urge the court to dismiss the application for no case submission.
“We therefore urge the defendants to enter their defense, adding that the defendants’ response was a mere re-arguments and as such, should be discountenanced.
“From the elements highlighted even by the defendants for all the counts, evidence has shown that a prima facie case has been established.
He added that PW 2 gave evidence of how he was asked to make payment.
After prosecution and defence counsel had made their final submissions on the no-case-submission application filed by Dokpesi, trial judge, Justice John Tsoho, subsequently fixed 12th November for ruling.