Raymond Dokpesi

Court unfreeze Dokpesi’s N2.1bn bank account, release seized his documents

The Chief Judge of the federal high court in Abuja, Justice John Tsoho on Tuesday  unfreeze  the N2.1B bank account of the founder of Daar Communications Plc, Chief Raymond Dokpesi.

Justice Tsoho’s order was contained in a ruling on an application brought by Chief Dokpesi and DAAR Communications owners of African Independent Television (AIT), Raypower FM.

The said the account domiciled at the First Bank should immediately be unfreeze  since the criminal charges which precipitated the restriction on the account had been dismissed and Dokpesi and his firm discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal. 

The court also ordered the release of Dokpesi travelling documents that were seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2015 when he was arraigned before the Court.

The Chief Judge held that since the Court of Appeal delivered the judgment that invalidated the criminal charges against Dokpesi,  the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC had not applied for stay of execution of the judgment. 

Justice Tsoho said that in the absence of a stay of execution,  his court was bound by law to give effect and implement the judgment of Court of Appeal which discharged and acquitted the applicants. 
He therefore  ordered that the frozen  order and ‘post no debit ‘ on the account be immediately removed in compliance with the appellate court decision. 

On the claim of EFCC that it has gone on appeal to Supreme Court,  Justice Tsoho held that the notice of appeal filed at the apex court cannot in law act as a stay of  the execution of the subsisting judgment .
He added that the anti graft agency ought to have obtained a  stay of execution of the judgment if they actually want to hold on to the accounts. 
He also ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi or voluntarily surrendered to the federal government be immediately returned to him. 

Agabi had while arguing the application prayed the court for an  order unfreezing Dokpesi’s  bank account.

The senior lawyer had submitted that the criminal charges in respect of N2.1B brought against Dokpesi by EFFCC had since been voided and quashed by the Court of Appeal Abuja division.
Agabi further argued that the charge which led to freezing of the account was no longer in existence as  Dokpesi was discharged and acquitted in all the charges.
He also argued that the Court of Appeal judgment which set aside the charges against Dokpesi is still subsisting, valid  and binding on both the court and EFCC. 

However, EFCC counsel Oluwaleke Atolagbe had raised objection against the application on the ground that the anti graft agency has already filled notice of appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment at the Supreme Court.

Atolagbe had urged the court not to unfreeze the account yet until the final decision of the Supreme Court in the matter adding that the N2.1B logged into the frozen account formed the basis of the charge.
Atolagbe also opposed the request for the release of Dokpesi’s document in possession of EFCC adding that no specific document was mentioned in the Request.
The EFCC counsel had drawn the attention of the court to DSS and NIA made as respondent in the matter adding that the two agencies are not before the court and as such court can not make valid order against them.
But his ruling Justice Tsoho noted that the two agencies mentioned by respondents are federal government agents and the federal government is their principal.