*Queries EFCC’s failure to question ex-President.
*Court to rule Nov 12
Businessman, Raymond Dokpesi has faulted the money laundering charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Dokpesi queried the exclusion of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan from EFCC’s probe of the allegation that he (Dokpesi) and his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Company Limited were involved in the laundering of N2.1billion.
The businessman, who is being tried with his firm, before the Federal High Court, Abuja also wondered why they were being prosecuted instead of the ex-National Security Adviser (NSA), Mohammed Dasuki, who is alleged to have laundered the money.
Dokpesi’s argument is contained in a no-case submission adopted on Friday by his lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN).
The case against Dokpesi and his firm, includes that they allegedly received N2.1b from the office of the National Security Adviser, under Sambo Dasuki, as payment for a “purported contract on presidential media initiative”.
They are also accused of receiving the N2.1b from ONSA to prosecute the 2015 presidential media campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Adopting the no-case submission on Friday, Agabi, an ex-Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), argued that the prosecution’s case against his clients and evidence led so far are replete with contradictions and inconsistencies.
Agabi argued that the prosecution failed to call vital witnesses such as Dasuki or former President Goodluck Jonathan whom he said his Dokpesi implicated in his statement.
The ex-AGF said, “The money was paid by Col. Dasuki. His name is mentioned in the four counts of money laundering as the one who made the payment.
“Therefore he is the one alleged to be laundering the funds. The money in counts one to four is not being laundered by the defendant. The launderer is Col. Dasuki.
“So, if the launderer is Col. Dasuki, are we going to convict him behind him? We cannot convict him behind him.
“Why is he not charged? His name is mentioned again and again in the charges.
“Even if they are not going to charge him, they should have called him as a witness because it is his action that is in question here,” Agabi said
He equally noted that despite that Dokpesi implicated former President Jonathan, the anti-graft agency failed to interview him or call him as a witness.
He said, “The 1st defendant (Dokpesi) in his statement implicated the former President. Witnesses testified that they did not interview the former President
“The rules of the court is that once the statement of the defendant (Dokpesi’s statement) is tendered by the prosecution it becomes the case of the prosecution,” Agabi said.
He argued that the prosecution failed to disclose ingredients of money laundering in count one to four.
He contended that, for a transaction to constitute a money laundering offence, the money involved must be proceeds of crime.
Agabi noted that, in the instant case, the money in the ONSA’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, from which his clients were paid, could not have been proceeds of crime.
He argued that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against his clients to warrant their being called upon to enter defence.
He argued that the charges were defective as they allegedly failed to disclose the ingredients of money laundering against his clients and were “riddled with inconsistencies from the head to the toes.”
Agabi urged the court to dismiss the charge and discharge and acquit his clients.
Responding, prosecuting lawyer, Oluwaleke Atolagbe urged the court to dismiss the no-case submission and order the defendants to enter their defence to the prosecution’s case.
Atolagbe contended that the defendants’ submission, to the effect that Dokpesi should be held to account for any money laundering charge, was an admission that they committed the alleged crimes.
He argued that all the ingredients of the alleged offences were proved by the prosecution and all the necessary witnesses needed to prove the case were called.
Atolagbe said the defence’s line of argument involving Dasuki’s roles was an admission that they committed the alleged crimes.
He said for instance, the former Director of Finance and Administration of ONSA, Salisu Shuaibu, was called as the second prosecution witness.
He noted that even though the charges before the case were not against Dasuki, the allegations of breach of trust, misappropriation and corruption leveled against the former NSA had been proved with the various witnesses called in the case.
Atolagbe added: “They said prosecution must prove breach of trust against Col. Dasuki. Even if that must be an element of the offence of money laundering, the evidence is enough to prove it
“PW2 (Shuaibu) gave a very elaborate evidence of how he was instructed to just make payments without contract or any relationship.
“Dasuki is not standing trial here. We don’t need to prove charge against Col. Dasuki here. He is being tried in another court. Even if that is what is required, we have proven it.
“This is also an admission on their part that there is money laundering, so they should enter their defence.”
Atolagbe faulted Agabi’s claim that the prosecution’s evidence was riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies in the charges.
He said: “That cannot also stand, because money obtained in violation of Public Procurement Act, as admitted by the defendant, certainly cannot be legitimate.”
Atolagbe asked the court “to direct the defendants to enter their defence” or enable them call witnesses, such as Dasuki and Jonathan, that they argued the prosecution failed to call.
Trial judge, Justice John Tsoho adjourned to November 12 for ruling.
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