Former Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi was on Wednesday re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before a Federal High Court in Abuja on six counts of money laundering and other charges relating to procurement fraud.
His re-arraignment is sequel to 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 subsequent reassignment of Justice James Tsoho to handle the matter.
Dokpesi, however denied the charges as he earlier did during his initial arraignment by saying: “absolutely, absolutely and absolutely not guilty” when the charges were read to him.
The charges involve N2.1bn which he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, between October 2014 and March 19, 2015 to prosecute Peoples Democratic Party, PDP’s 2015 presidential media campaign.
It would be recalled that when the accused were initially arraigned before Justice Kolawole on December 9, 2015, Dokpesi and his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Ltd, had earlier denied the charges.
The judge subsequently granted bail to Dokpesi on December 14, 2015, in the sum of N200m with two sureties in like sum and fixed Wednesday for commencement of trial.
However, the trial could not begin as earlier scheduled owing 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, the DAAR founder, 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 Ltd, of receiving N2.1bn from the ONSA 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, however, rounded of his plea on Wednesday when he responded to charges read to him thus: “absolutely, absolutely and absolutely not guilty”.
Meanwhile, a request by the lead defence lawyer, Olanipekun, for Dokpesi to be allowed on bail in the same terms and conditions earlier granted him by Justice Kolawole was acceded by Justice Tsoho, who went on to adjourn the matter till March 2 and 3.