The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday adjourned till May 9 and 10 the trial of media mogul, Chief Raymond Dokpesi and his Daar Investment and Holdings Company Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting the defendants on charges of money laundering and procurement fraud involving the sum of N2.1bn which they allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.
Dokpesi and his company were due to open their defence on Wednesday following the court’s November 21, 2018 ruling to the effect that they had a case to answer going by the evidence the prosecution had led against them.
But the Wednesday’s proceedings were stalled following a letter by the defence team requesting that the matter be adjourned till April 24 because the lead counsel in the team, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), was bereaved.
The lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) sympathised with Agabi but opposed the request for adjournment till April.
He insisted that court should rather adjourn till Thursday as there were four other SANs in the defence team who could handle the defence in Agabi’s absence.
He said the other SANs “deliberately stayed away” to foist the adjournment on the court.
Jacobs argued that by law, a lawyer did not have to be a Senior Advocate of Nigeria to handle a case, adding that any lawyer who appeared in a case was deemed to have consent and authority of the client to handle the case.
But the lawyer, Mr. Ayo Ogundele, who led the defence team on Wednesday, noted that Agabi was not a frivolous person and could not have requested the adjournment till April if it was baseless.
The judge agreed with the defence, saying that Agabi, being a respected man, his request should be accorded due recognition.
But he said the April 24 date requested by the defence was no longer available and urged the parties to agree on another date.
So, the judge adjourned till May 9 and 10 which the parties agreed on.
The court had on November 21, 2018 struck out the no-case submission filed by defendants and ruled that they must explain the N2.1bn they allegedly received from the ONSA in 2015.
The judge had ruled, “I am guided by the decision of the Supreme Court’s decision in Metuh Vs FRN and hold that a prima facie case has been made out against the defendants.
“This is not a stage to evaluate the evidence of the prosecution.
“The no case submission filed by the defendants on June 19, 2018 is struck out.
“The defendants are hereby invited to explain their own side of the story.”