Dokpesi got N2.1bn during 2015 presidential campaigns – Witness

DokpesiA relationship manager with First Bank Plc, Maitama branch, Abuja, Mrs. Zainab Ibrahim-Kokobili, on Wednesday gave details of how African Independent Televison’s founder, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, received N2.1bn from the Office of the National Security Adviser between January and March 2015. Ibrahim-Kokobili was testifying before Justice John Tsoho of a Federal High Court in Abuja as the third prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of Dokpesi, along with his firm, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, on charges bordering on the N2.1bn they (Dokpesi and Daar) received from ONSA. Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Oluwaleke Atolagbe, the witness said the money was paid by ONSA into the account of Daar Investments and Holdings Limited’s First Bank account, to which Dokpesi was said to be a signatory. Daar Investment and Holdings Limited is the registered owner of AIT. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had filed six counts of money laundering and other charges relating to procurement fraud against Dokpesi and Daar Investments for allegedly receiving N2.12bn from ONSA to prosecute Peoples Democratic Party’s 2015 presidential media campaign. Dokpesi and Daar Investments were said to have received N2.12bn from ONSA, while being headed by Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), as payment for a “purported contract on presidential media initiative.” The prosecution alleged that the payment was in breach of and punishable under provisions of the Public Procurement Act, Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the EFCC (Establishment) Act. Testifying as a prosecution witness on Wednesday, Ibrahim-Kokobili told the court that she had been Daar Investments and Holding Limited’s account officer at First Bank since November 2014. Reading from the company’s statement of account, the witness said N2.12bn was paid into the account in four tranches of N500m, N500m, N620m and N500m between January and March 2015. The witness said the balance on the company’s account was N113,885.28 before the first tranche of N500m was paid into the account on January 22, 2015. Ibrahim-Kokobili said, “January 22, 2015 – RTGS, being payment by ONSA: N500m. It was a credit. “Before the payment of N500m, the balance on the account was N113,885.28. “February 4, 2015 – RTGS, being payment by ONSA: N500m. “February 9, 2015 – RTGS, being payment by ONSA: N620m only. It was also a credit. “March 19, 2015 – the naration is RTGS being payment by ONSA: N500m.” She said Dokpesi and his son, Paul, were the two signatories to the account of Daar Investments and Holdings Limited. She said going by the nature of the mandate on the account, either of the two signatories could singly give instruction to draw money from it. She explained that the sum of N2.12bn was disbursed from Daar Investments and Holdings Limited after receiving instructions from Dokpesi. She said, “The customer sent instructions to the bank for payments. “Money was paid after getting confirmation from the customer. “High Chief Raymond Anthony Alegho Dokpesi was the signatory who sent instructions for the payments.” The witness was, however, not led by the prosecuting counsel to give details of the beneficiaries of the disbursements. Earlier, the witness said she was invited by the EFCC to its Abuja office on February 6, 2016. She said during the visit to the EFCC, she wrote a statement and presented to the anti-graft agency’s officials, documents relating to Daar Investments and Holdings Limited’s account with First Bank. The documents were, the statement of account, account opening documentation, certificate of identification and transfer instructions on the account. The prosecution tendered the documents and were admitted as exhibits by the judge without n objection from the defence team led by Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) on Wednesday. Under cross examination by Agabi, the witness said she did not know when the company’s account was opened but confirmed that the account was already in existence before the payment of N2.12bn into it. When asked, she confirmed that she considered a payment by ONSA into an account as legitimate. She also confirmed that there were many Nigerians who were in the habit of keeping money at home. She also confirmed that a person who put his or her money in the bank “is not trying to hide it.” When asked if she knew why the sum of N2.12bn was paid into Daar’s account she said “no”. After the cross-examination by defence counsel, the prosecuting counsel, Atolagbe, re-examined the witness. When asked by Atolagbe whether the bank “determines” the legitimacy of payments made into a customer’s account, the witness said, “at the point of credit, the bank would not know”. Justice Tsoho adjourned until May 24 and 25, 2017 for further trial. – Punch.

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