By Paul Ajayi
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to unfreeze the account belonging to the Chairman of Daar Communications, Raymond Dokpesi.
Justice Tsoho gave the order on Tuesday while delivering a ruling on Dokpesi’s application argued by Kanu Agabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
He ordered that account operated by Dokpesi at First bank be immediately unfrozen since the criminal charges which precipitated the restriction on the account had been dismissed and Dokpesi discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal.
He explained that there was no application by the EFCC for stay of execution of the appellate court’s judgment which quashed the criminal charges against Dokpesi.
According to Justice Tsoho, in the absence of a stay of execution, the court was bound by law to recognise the judgment of the appellate court.
He ordered that the freeze order and post no debit on the account be immediately removed in compliance with the appellate court’s judgment.
Ruling on EFCC’s claim that it had appealed the appellate court’s decision at the Supreme Court, the judge held that the notice of appeal filed at the apex court could not in law stay the execution of the subsisting judgment.
He added that the anti-graft agency ought to have obtained a stay of execution of the judgment.
He further ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi should be immediately returned to him.
Counsel to Dopkesi, Agabi, while making arguments in support of the application, prayed the court to issue an order unfreezing Dokpesi’s bank account frozen on the strength of the alleged N2.1 billion fraud charge against him.
He submitted that the criminal charges in respect of N2.1 billion had since been dismissed by the Court of Appeal Abuja division, but the EFCC wanted to continue to hold his client in bondage.
Agabi had further argued that the charge which led to freezing of the account no longer existed, following the decision of the appellate court on the matter.
He had tendered two judgements of the Court of Appeal to establish his claim that the criminal charges against Dokpesi had been quashed.
He held that until the judgments were set aside, the EFCC could not continue to freeze his client’s account