A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the remand of Raymond Dokpesi, former Chairman of DAAR Communications, in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Gabriel Kolawole issued the order at the opening of the trial of Dokpesi on charges of N2.1b contract fraud and money laundering preferred against him by the EFCC. He also warned journalists to be mindful of their reportage of the case.
Dokpesi who was arraigned on a six-count-charge of contract fraud and money laundering amounting to N2.1 billion and charged along with his company, Daar Holding and Investment Limited pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The judge ordered that Dokpesi, who had been detained by the EFCC, be retained in their custody, pending the hearing of his bail application on Thursday by noon.
In the charges read in the court, the defendants were alleged to have fraudulently obtained N2.1 billion through a purported media contract for the purpose of 2015 presidential campaign.
Dokpesi and DAAR communications were alleged to have received the money through the First bank account of the office of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki.
Dokpesi’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome told the court that he had filed an application seeking to admit his client to bail.
“My lord, we got the charge yesterday, we filed bail application this morning and we are ready to argue our bail application’’, he said.
Prosecution lawyer, Rotimi Jacobs however, told the court that he was yet to file a reply to the bail application and would need a short adjournment to do so.
After listening to arguments of the two lawyers, Kolawole adjourned the case for hearing of the bail application.
He also fixed February 17 and 18 as well as March 2 and 3, 2016 for hearing in the substantive trial.
Kolawole warned journalists covering the case to be mindful of what they write and be objective in their reporting.
He said this had become necessary because of the vantage position of the defendant in the media.
The judge warned that “any journalist that reports anything outside what happened in court or publishes his or her opinion regarding the court proceedings will face the wrath of the law.