The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, on Thursday discharged founder of DAAR Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, of the N2.1 billion money laundering charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Appeal Court upheld the no case submission filed by Dokpesi and DAAR Communications in the seven-count criminal charge preferred against them by the EFCC.
Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN) on behalf of Dokpesi, Justice Elfreda Williams-Dawodu held that the EFCC failed woefully to establish a prima facie case against Dokpesi.
The judge maintained that the ingredients of the offences were not provided by the anti-graft agency as required by law.
The appellate court agreed with Agabi that being a predicate offence, the ingredients of the offences against Dokpesi must be provided.
The appellate court further held that the prosecution failed to prove that the N2.1 billion allegedly received by Dokpesi was a proceed of breach of trust.
Recall that the Federal High Court, Abuja had in November 2018, dismissed the no case submission filed by the AIT founder.
The court dismissed the application on the grounds that a prima facie case had been successfully established against him by the EFCC.
Justice John Tsoho, who dismissed the application, ordered Dokpesi to open his defence on the grounds that he had some explanations to offer in the charges against him.
Dokpesi, however, dissatisfied with the ruling of the High Court, approached the Appeal Court and prayed that the ruling of the lower court be set aside and his no case submission be upheld.
The appellate court agreed with Dokpesi and consequently set aside the decision of the lower court.
Justice William-Dowodu, in a unanimous judgment, held that there was nothing in the evidence of the 14 witnesses called by the prosecution to persuade the court to compel the appellant to enter a defence in the charges were ingredients of the offences 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 because the evidence is 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,” the judge held.