By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, has discharged and acquitted the founder of DAAR Communications PLC, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi of the N2.1billion money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
A three-man panel of Justices of the appellate court led by Justice Elfreda Oyebisi Williams-Dawidu, upheld the no-case submission made by Dokpesi and DAAR Communications.
The court held that the Anti-graft agency failed to establish prima facie case against the appellant in all the seven-count criminal charges against him.
It held that EFCC failed to prove that the N2.1 billion allegedly received by the appellant as payment was a proceed of breach of trust.
Justice Williams-Dawodu further held that the ingredients of the offences were not provided by the prosecution as required by law.
The appellate court agreed with the counsel to Chief Dokposi, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN, that being a predicate offence, the ingredients of the offences against the appellant must be clearly provided, adding that it is clear that none of the offences was established in line with provisions of law.
A federal high court, Abuja had in November. 2018 dismissed the no-case submission filed by the AIT founder on the grounds that a prima facie had been successful established against him by the EFCC in the alleged N2.1B money laundering .
Justice John Tsoho, the current Chief Judge of the court had after the ruling, ordered Dokpesi to open his defense on the grounds that he had some explanations to offer in the charges against him.
However, dissatisfied with the ruling of the high court, Dokpesi approached the Appeal Court and prayed that the ruling of the lower court made against him be set aside and his no case submission be upheld.
The Court of Appeal agreed with Dokpesi and consequently set aside the decision of the lower court and also quashed the charges.
Justice William-Dowodu in a unanimous judgment held that there was nothing in the evidence of the 14 witnesses called by EFCC to persuade the court to compel the appellant to enter a defence in the charges where ingredients of the offence were not provided.
“No case was made against the appellant in counts 1, 2, 3 and 4 to warrant his being called upon to open his defence.
“There is no possibility that the appellant can be convicted in the charges because the evidence of the witnesses are so manifestly unreliable.
“I am of the view that irrespective of the ingredients stated earlier, and those by the appellant and first respondent respectively, 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 said counts.
“In totality, this appeal has merit, it is allowed and the ruling of the Federal High Court is hereby set aside and the appellant is discharged,” Justice Williams-Dawodu held.