The proprietor of Africa Independent Television, Mr Raymond Dokpesi, has pleaded not guilty to a six-count charge of fraudulent and corrupt act preferred against him by the Federal government of Nigeria.
Mr Dokpesi was arraigned on Wednesday before a Federal High Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
He said he was absolutely not guilty, as the charges preferred against him were not true.
In count one of the charge, Mr Dokpesi and DAAR Investment and Holding Company Limited were accused of receiving public funds to the tune of 2.1 billion Naira from the account of the office of the National Security Adviser with the Central Bank of Nigeria for the funding of media activities for the 2015 presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) contrary to Section 58 Sub-section Four B of the Public Procurement Act, 2007.
In the other counts, Mr Dokpesi was also accused of collecting the said amount without a certificate of no objection to contract award duly issued by the Public Procurement Bureau and receiving payment for a purported contract without bidding for the said contract.
Having pleaded not guilty to all the charges, Justice Kolawole adjourned the hearing of Mr Dokpesi’s bail application to December 10.
The judge also fixed February 17 and 18 as well as March 2 and 3, 2016 for the trial.
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In a related development, Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, vowed to go after all those who looted the funds meant for arms procurement and bring them to book.
Magu said the commission would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all those implicated in the diversion of the arms cash would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Magu said, however, that the commission had resolved to break the corruption chain in a fair, accountable and transparent manner in line with international best practice.
He disclosed that the commission has so far investigated a total of 1,881 cases within 2015 alone and would do more before the end of the year.
According to him, “Out of this figure, 280 cases were filed in courts and 78 convictions were secured.
Within the same period, eight interim and two final forfeiture orders were handed down by various courts on applications brought by the commission.
The EFCC boss further added that he had put in place machinery to sanitise the Commission internally.
Magu made the declaration at a public event to commemorate the International Anti-corruption Day with the theme “Break the Corruption Chain” in Abuja.
He also expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for creating an enabling environment for the commission to carry out its mandate, adding that he would undertake institutional reforms to increase the Commission’s capacity to fight corruption.
He, therefore, urged civil service organisations as well as other partners to join hands with the Commission in the anti-corruption fight.
“Corruption is like a chain whose effect impacts various aspects of the society, undermines democracy and the rule of law, distorts markets, erodes quality of life, leads to human rights violations and fans the embers of terrorism and other threats to human security.”
In his remark, the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms, BPSR, Dr. Joe Abah, called for the enhancement of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
Abah stated that the newly introduced zero- based budgeting would ensure discipline in the implementation of budgets.
The Deputy Chief Mission of the United States Embassy, Maria E. Brewer, in her remark, stated that corruption could undermine institutions and slow development of any nation.
She said that the United States was ready to partner with Nigeria in the fight against corruption.
The Nigerian government has put in place a collaborative mechanism among anti graft agencies in the country as part of efforts to enhance the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases in the country.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami disclosed this in Abuja in an interview with Voice of Nigeria at an event organized by the United States Embassy in Nigeria to commemorate the UN International Anti-Corruption Day.
The theme of this year’s commemoration is ’’Breaking the Chain of Corruption.’’
Mr. Malami said a committee would be inaugurated by the government to ensure inter agencies cooperation to ensure the judicious and expeditious determination of corruption cases.
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Entwistle stated that corruption must be addressed by governments, civil society and the private sector, through “top-down and bottom-up efforts.”
According to the recent Transparency International report on corruption in Africa, he said, Nigerians were among the most likely to believe that corruption was getting worse in their country.
“President Buhari’s focus on addressing corruption is a positive indication for a secure and bright, economic future for this country. Corruption must be addressed by governments, civil society, and the private sector, through both top-down and bottom-up efforts.
“The success of this fight depends on continuing efforts to ensure that citizens everywhere, as individuals, journalists, and as organized civil society, are able to expose corruption and participate in holding their governments accountable,” he said.