A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to unfreeze the bank accounts of businessman and politician, Raymond Dokpesi.

The court also ordered the release of his documents being held by the state.

The EFCC had obtained a court order that led to the freezing of Dokpesi’s bank accounts and seizure of his documents while prosecuting him and his company, Daar Investment and Holdings Limited, before the court.

They were charged with fraud and breach of public trust over the N2.1 billion they allegedly got from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Colonel Mohammed Sambo Dasuki (retd.).

In a judgment on April 1, the Appeal Court in Abuja set aside the November 21, 2018, ruling by Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, rejecting their “no case” submission while ordering Dokpesi and his company to enter a defence.

In her lead judgment in the unanimous decision of the appellate court’s three-man panel, Justice Elfrieda Williams-Daudu held, among others, that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against Dokpesi and his company to warrant their being called upon to enter a defence. The Court of Appeal then upheld their no-case submission, quashed the charge against them and discharged and acquitted them.

Armed with the Court of Appeal decision, Dokpesi returned to the Federal High Court, Abuja with an application for orders directing the EFCC to unfreeze his account and return documents seized from him while his trial lasted.

In a ruling on Tuesday, Justice Tsoho rejected the opposition by the prosecution and proceeded to grant the application by Dokpesi and his company.

Justice Tsoho, who is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, held that since the charge which precipitated the restriction on the accounts had been quashed and the applicants discharged and acquitted by the Appeal Court, the restriction could no longer be justified.

The judge also held that the EFCC had no basis to sustain the post no debit order on the accounts in view of the subsisting and valid order of the Court of Appeal.

He stressed that the EFCC did not obtain any order for a stay of the execution of the Appeal Court verdict since it was delivered on April 1.

On EFCC’s argument that it had lodged an appeal at the Supreme Court against the judgment of Court of Appeal, Justice Tsoho 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 prosecution ought to have obtained an order staying the execution of the judgment.

Justice Tsoho averred that in the absence of any order staying the execution of the judgment by the Court of Appeal, his court was bound by law to give effect to the judgment.

He ordered that the vacation of the freezing order earlier obtained by the EFCC on the accounts was in compliance with the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The judge also ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi or those he voluntarily surrendered to the state be immediately returned to him.

NATION