Media magnate charged with fraud, money laundering
10 December 2015, 09:50
Abuja - The founder of Nigeria's first private radio and television stations was on Wednesday charged with fraud and money laundering after being arrested as part of a wider probe into disputed arms deals.
Raymond Dokpesi, head of Raypower FM and Africa Independent Television (AIT), was brought before a federal high court in Abuja to face six charges of corruption.
The 64-year-old is alleged to have collected some 2.1 billion naira ($10.5 million, 9.6 million euros) from the then-national security advisor Sambo Dasuki, who is himself facing similar charges.
The charges allege that between October 2014 and March 2015 Dokpesi, who is chairman of Daar Communications, "conducted procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt act".
The money is said to have gone "for the funding of media activities for the 2015 presidential election campaign for the Peoples Democratic Party" (PDP).
Then-president Goodluck Jonathan, from the PDP, lost to the All Progressives Congress candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, who has since embarked on a wide-ranging anti-corruption campaign.
The charges also alleged Dokpesi knew the money "represented the proceeds of criminal conduct" of Dasuki and his finance director Shuaibu Salisu.
Dokpesi pleaded not guilty and judge Gabriel Kolawole ordered him to be remanded in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) until a bail application hearing on Thursday.
A trial date was fixed for February 17 next year.
Dokpesi's lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, described the charges as "frivolous and ridiculous".
Buhari said last month Nigerian troops were denied weapons to fight Boko Haram Islamists and thousands of lives were lost because of rampant fraud in the procurement process.
Dasuki has denied accusations he awarded some $2 billion in bogus deals for fighter jets, helicopters, weapons and ammunition that never materialised.
The 60-year-old former army colonel has said all contracts and payments were sanctioned by Jonathan as president and commander-in-chief.
The EFCC probe has also seen a former minister of state for finance under Jonathan and the former governor of the northwestern state of Sokoto hauled in for questioning.
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