The former Chairman, Daar Communications Plc, owners of Africa Independent Television (AIT) and RayPower FM, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, who is being tried over alleged money laundering and fraud told a judge on Wednesday he was “absolutely, absolutely and absolutely not guilty”.
The media business mogul is accused of receiving N2.1 billion from the Office of the National Security Adviser between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 without due process to get former President Goodluck Jonathan re-elected. Jonathan lost to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari has vowed to crack down on graft but many have accused him of going after perceived enemies, especially those who campaigned against him during the 2015 presidential election like Dokpesi whose TV station, AIT, aired a documentary arguing that Buhari was an unrepentant dictator that could not be trusted in a democratic dispensation.
But Buhari men have rejected such allegations, saying that the accused should prove their innocence in court, rather than coming up with some conspiracy theories.
Dokpesi was re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following the withdrawal of the case by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, from the former trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, and the transfer of the matter to Justice James Tsoho.
In such a case, the charges had to be read to him for the second time. Dokpesi and his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, had earlier denied the charges when they were initially arraigned before Justice Kolawole on December 9, 2015.
Justice Kolawole had on December 14, 2015, granted bail to Dokpesi in the sum of N200m with two sureties in like sum and fixed Wednesday (yesterday) for the commencement of trial.
However, the trial could not begin as earlier scheduled due to the need for the matter to start afresh as a result of the transfer of the case to another judge.
Appearing before Justice Tsoho on Wednesday, Dokpesi, whose defence team is now being led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), again denied the charges as he earlier did during his initial arraignment.
The prosecution, led by Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), accused Dokepsi and Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, of receiving, N2.1bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 for the PDP’s presidential media campaign in breach of provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the EFCC (Establishment) Act.
Dokpesi denied the allegations and Justice Tsoho granted a request by the lead defence lawyer, Olanipekun, to allow Dokpesi on bail in the same terms and conditions earlier granted him by Justice Kolawole.
The trial was adjourned till March 2 and 3.
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