Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday, questioned founder of Daar Communications Plc, owner of AIT/Ray Power, Raymond Dokpesi for his alleged role in the disbursement of $2.1 billion arms deal during the Jonathan administration.
This is even as the Department of State Services (DSS) re-arrested former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), over the weapons’ deal. Dokpesi’s arrest was confirmed by a source in the EFCC who declined to be named.
Dokpesi, who allegedly played a prominent role in the failed re-election bid of former President Goodluck Jonathan, reported at EFCC’s headquarters for questioning yesterday afternoon.
According to the source, Dokpesi allegedly played a key role in the purchase of arms for the Army in the fight against insurgency. It was gathered that N2.1 billion was reportedly paid into his account. Dokpesi was, until recently, chairman of DAAR Communications.
A presidential committee was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari soon after he assumed office to investigate the purchase of arms by the former president.
In its interim report, the committee found extra-budgetary spending by the Jonathan administration to the tune of N643.8 billion and an additional $2.2 billion as the foreign currency component.
Dasuki was indicted in the interim report and has been having a running battle with the DSS.
On Monday, the anti-graft agency arrested a former minster of state for Finance, Bashir Yuguda over alleged complicity the arms’ deal.
Meanwhile, after three weeks of siege to his Asokoro, Abuja residence, DSS finally moved against Dasuki. He was taken to their headquarters at Aso Drive, Asokoro, Abuja, where he is expected to be interrogated on the alleged conjured multi-billion naira arms contract he awarded. Investigation also indicated that more DSS operatives have stormed Dasuki’s residence, perhaps, to carry out more searches for documents and other evidence relating to the arms’ contracts.
Prior to his arrest, a Federal High Court, on November 3, in Abuja, ordered the release of his passport and granted him leave to travel abroad for medicals, which was ignored. Justice Adeniyi Ademola, while ruling on Dasuki’s application held that in a criminal trial, every suspect is presumed innocent and that every Nigerian has the right to access medication anywhere of his choice.
He said the former NSA was granted bail on September 1, on self recognition with no condition attached, adding that the prosecution’s argument that the seizure of Dasuki’s passport as the only condition for his bail, was irrelevant.
Justice Ademola ordered the Registrar of the court to release Dasuki’s passport to enable him travel out.
He also ordered the ex-NSA to return his passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar, Litigation of the Court within 72 hours after his return from the medical trip.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja fixed December 3 for the hearing of the motion filed by the Federal Government seeking to revoke Dasuki’s bail.
At the resumed hearing of the suit, lawyer to the Federal Government, Mr. Mohammed Diri, told the court that a notice of appeal has been lodged at the Court of Appeal challenging the ruling which granted Dasuki bail.
The embattled Dasuki was charged to court with illegal possession of arms following a siege to his Abuja home and subsequent arrest in July. The charge against him was later expanded to include money laundering.
However, a few days after the ruling, Dasuki’s home was surrounded by DSS operatives. The siege was an attempt to ensure that he did not leave the country.
The DSS debunked the claim that its operatives invaded the home of the former NSA in defiance of a court order.
The security agency, in a statement, said its officers’ action was informed by Dasuki’s refusal to honour an invitation by the committee investigating his alleged involvement in the arms procurement process.
Dasuki denied ever receiving any invitation letter to appear before a committee.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described EFCC’s invitation and questioning of Dokpesi as a “witch hunt.”
Reacting to the development, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh said although the party was not against the anti-graft war, allegations against Dokpesi was a ploy by the APC to cow and silence opposition in the country.
“We insist that the crusade must be carried out within the limits of the law and not as a guise to persecute and torture opposition elements in the country.
“Our fear is that with the pronouncement of guilt, even without being giving the opportunity within his rights as a citizen to state his own side of the story, the President Buhari-led government is sidestepping the law to ensure that Dokpesi does not get justice in the court, a plot which they want to extend to other PDP leaders.
“The PDP, therefore, demands an open and public trial of all those arrested so that all issues and charges against them as well as their defence therein would also be in the public domain…” -The Sun