Dokpesi’s N2.2B Corruption Trial May Fail, Judge Warns…Remands Him In Kuje Prison
A Federal High Court in Abuja today admitted the founder of DAAR Communication PLC, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, the owner of African Independent Television (AIT) and Ray Power Radio FM stations to bail in the sum of N400 million with two sureties in like sum. Justice Gabriel Kolawole in his ruling on the bail application however ordered Dokpesi to be remanded in Kuje prisons until the conditions attached to his bail are met.
Justice Kolawole who granted the request of the accused for bail following his arraignment on six count charge, also ordered that the sureties should be government officers not below the rank of Director either serving or retired.
He said that in case the sureties are serving directors, each must produce a letter from their permanent secretary confirming their status and appointment. For a retired Director, the sureties must produce government gazette in which he or she was listed to show that he or she retired as a director. And if the accused chooses to produce an entrepreneur as his guarantor, such a person must produce three years of consecutive income tax clearance certificates.
Each of the guarantors must have landed property worth N200m duly certified by qualified estate surveyor and the property deeds should be deposited with the court registrar. The sureties must also swear to affidavit of means that in the event that the accused jumps bail they will forfeit the said property.
Justice Kolawole also ordered Dokpesi to deposit his international passport with the court’s deputy registrar who would serve as a committee to verify the property and the claims of guarantors.
The court also made an order that Dokpesi should not be re-arrested but in the event that any government agency wants to investigate him, that agency should write him through his lawyer who should produce him for interview or investigation between the hours of 10am and 6.30pm. He said the order was necessary to prevent government agencies from perverting the cause of justice and at the same time allow them carry out their statutory duties.
Justice Kolawole has however expressed fears that the charge against Dokpesi may not stand as necessary parties from the office of the National Security Adviser [NSA] who were directly involved in the diversion of the N2.1 billion were not joined as defendants.
He said the prosecution did not put forward sufficient grounds why the bail application should not succeed adding that doing otherwise would breach all known legal principles on the granting of bail.
“The onus is on the state to show that a defendant who by the provisions of section 163 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act [ACJA] and other laid down principles is entitled to bail should be denied.
“The issue of bail is discretional and the ACJA has not removed the discretional powers of the court to grant or refuse bail. The court cannot be used as a circuit to deny an accused person bail when the offences are ordinarily bailable. No court of law will use the content of Proof of Evidence to refuse bail because to do so will rum contrary to sections of the constitution.”
On whether Dokpesi will interfere with ongoing investigations as argued by the prosecution, Justice Kolawole said it was speculative “until a proper charge is filed, the court will not indulge in speculation to deny the accused person bail.”
“The offences are ordinarily bailable, irrespective of the amount of money involved and it will be a misuse of application of judicial principles to refuse bail. It is only in capital offences that courts are hesitant in granting bail. The most crucial thing to consider is the prospect of the accused person to be available to stand trial. The prosecution has not made any fundamental evidence to deny the accused person bail.”
He expressed fears that the trial of Dokpesi may be hampered by the absence of the National Security Adviser and other officers in the office of the NSA. On this he said “I wonder if the trial of the accused person can go on without the officers from the NSA joining as co-defendants. I think it is a fundamental omission on the part of the State. I was just trying to assist in the prosecution of the 2nd defendant, I will not say more least I will be accused of descending into the arena.”