Absence of lead counsel forces adjournment of Dokpesi’s N2.1bn fraud trial

Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 21 February 2019 | 928 times

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•The accused, Dokpesi

 Justice John Tsoho of a Federal High Court, Abuja, has adjourned the trial of the pioneer Chairman of DAAR Communications Plc, Raymond Dokpesi, to May 9 and 10, 2019 following the absence of his lead counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN.

Dokpesi, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for a six-count charge bordering on alleged procurement fraud and breach of public trust, in relation to the N2.1 billion received from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under then NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), was expected to open his defence yesterday, February 20.

However, Agabi was conspicuously absent in court. He sent in a letter to the court that he was bereaved, and prayed the court for an adjournment to April 21 to 24, 2019.

Counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, vehemently opposed the “two-month” adjournment proposed by Agabi, and urged the court to rather adjourn the matter to February 21, 2019.

He said: “While I sympathise with my fellow counsel, I am surprised at the request for a two - month adjournment after the court had allocated ample time of three months for the defence to prepare its defence.

“At this point, any learned counsel can lead the defence in evidence in place of the learned silk.

“The deliberate failure of the defence counsel to show up only means that the EFCC has substantial evidences against him after presenting 12 prosecution witnesses in response to the flimsy ‘no-case’ submission, hence the rule of law must apply.

“Furthermore, as in some jurisdictions any counsel representing the lead counsel is instructed and equipped to hold the brief in the absence of the lead counsel.”

However, Ayo Ogundele, who represented Agabi, pleaded with the court, that as an honourable and responsible man, Agabi had prepared his defence, but was met with the “unanticipated circumstances”.

“Ahead of the 2019 elections, February and March, are filled with electoral matters and even the recent INEC postponement might hamper the proceedings,” he added.

Source: News Express

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