Alleged N2.1bn Fraud: Dokpesi used N68m to renovate country-home – Witness

ABUJA – A prosecution witness, Mr. Ayobami Oluwarinu, on Wednesday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how Chairman emeritus of DAAR Communications Plc, ‎High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, used N68million out of N2.1billion he allegedly received from the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA, before the 2015 presidential election, to renovate his country home in Edo. Oluwarinu testified as the 13th witness, PW-13, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has brought before the court to testify against Dokpesi. The PW-13 gave his Evidence-In-Chief after EFCC re-arraigned Dokpesi on an amended seven-count money laundering charge. Shortly after the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge, Oluwarinu who identified himself as a Lagos based architect, mounted the witness box and gave account of how funds were wired into his two firms- Archisynthesis Ltd and Woodcountry Investment Ltd. The PW-13 told the court that the defendant engaged him and transferred a total sum of N68, 190, 000m into his companies’ account for the renovation work and for construction of studios. The witness said he was not aware of the source of the fund that was transferred to him, saying he got to know about money laundering allegation against Dokpesi after EFCC traced monies to his companies and invited him for questioning. “I got a call from EFCC that I should come to its Abuja office and clarify the transactions that took place between my companies and DAAR investment Ltd”. Insisting that he has been handling contracts for the defendant since 1993, Oluwarinu admitted that funds were transferred from accounts of DAAR Ltd to that of his firms. EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe tendered bank documents that revealed how the funds were sequentially transferred to the witness.

While identifying the documents as genuine, the PW-13, said: “My lord on January 26, 2015, the sum of N16. 1m was paid into Archisynthesis account from DAAR Investment and Holding Company Ltd. “On 29th January 2015, another N3.5m was paid into Archisynthesis”. He disclosed that whereas the sum of N3.53m was paid into Archisynthesis account on February 6, 2015, by the defendant, another inflow of N13.34m came in on February 17. According to the PW-13, on March 28, 2015, another N12.25m was transferred from DAAR Ltd to the account of Archisynthesis, while N19.47m was transferred to Wood country on April 22, 2015. He maintained that all the monies were for design and construction, as well as for renovation works at Dokpesi’s home residence at Aghenegbode in Edo state. “One of the studios work is in Kpaduma Asokoro Abuja. Others are located across the country, because I am his sole architect” Oluwarinu said. He admitted using the money for the renovation of Dokpesi’s home comprising of 4 bungalows. “Dokpesi gave me instructions in terms of the building, and I have been working for him since 1993”, he added. Asked if there was any documented agreement for the execution of the jobs, the witness said, “I cannot really recall whether we had oral or written agreement for all the jobs I did for him. This is because my relationship with the defendant is cordial and I have worked for him since 1993. “The same thing goes for the studio construction”. While being cross-examined by the defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, the witness, said he did not border to enter into any contractual agreement with Dokpesi because of cordiality in their relationship.

Meanwhile, trial Justice John Tsoho has adjourned further hearing on the matter till May 28. EFCC had through its lead investigative officer, Mr. Abubakar Madaki, told the court that it was unable to link about N2.1bn allegedly released to Dokpesi by the detained former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki, retd, three months to the 2015 presidential election, to the execution of any contract. Madaki testified before the court as the twelfth prosecution witness, PW-12. Dokpesi is facing trial alongside his firm, DAAR Investment and Holdings Ltd, owners of African Independent Television, AIT and Raypower FM. The anti-graft agency alleged that the defendants received funds from the ONSA for Peoples Democratic Party’s ‎presidential media campaign. According to the charge which was signed by the Deputy Director, Legal and Prosecution at the EFCC, Mr. Aliyu Yusuf, the fund was released to the defendants ‎between October 2014 and March 19, 2015. The funds were allegedly transferred from an account the ‎office of NSA operated with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN‎, to a FirstBank‎ of Nigeria Plc‎ account owned by Daar Investment and Holding Company Limited The prosecution maintained that the transaction was in breach of ‎section 58 (4) (b) of the Public Procurement Act 2007 and punishable under section 58 (6) and 7 of the same Act, as well as under section 17 (b) of the EFCC Act, 2004.