Justice Tsoho has ordered the account domiciled at First Bank to be 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.
Delivering a ruling in an application filed and argued by Kanu Agabi SAN on behalf of Dokpesi, Justice Tsoho said that the federal government has no basis to put a post no debit order on the account in view of the subsisting and valid order of the Court of Appeal.
The Chief Judge held that since the Court of Appeal delivered the judgment that invalidated the criminal charges against Dokpesi, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC had not applied for a stay of execution of the judgment.
Justice Tsoho said that in the absence of a stay of execution, his court was bound by law to give effect and implementation to the judgment.
He thereafter ordered that the freeze order and post no debit on the account be immediately removed in compliance with the appellate court decision.
On the claim of EFCC that it has gone on appeal at Supreme Court, Justice Tsoho held that the notice of appeal filed at the apex court cannot 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 also ordered that all documents seized from Dokpesi or voluntarily surrendered to the federal government be immediately returned to him.
Agabi had while arguing the application prayed the court to issue an order to unfreeze Dokpesi’s bank account frozen on the strength of the charges against him.
The senior lawyer had submitted that the criminal charges in respect of N2.1B brought against Dokpesi by EFFCC had since been voided and quashed by the Court of Appeal Abuja division.
Agabi further argued that the charge which led to the freezing of the account was no longer in existence while Dokpesi was discharged and acquitted in all the charges.
He also argued that the Court of Appeal judgment which set aside the charges against Dokpesi is still subsisting, valid and binding on both the court and EFCC.
The senior lawyer further submitted that the EFCC, which lost at the Court of Appeal, has not obtained a stay of execution of the judgment and therefore has no legal stand to continue to place a freezing order on the defendant’ s account.
Agabi had tendered two judgements of the Court of Appeal to establish his claim that the criminal charges against Dokpesi have been quashed, adding that until the court of appeal judgement is set aside the EFCC cannot continue to freeze the account.
However, EFCC counsel Oluwaleke Atolagbe had raised objection against the application on the ground that the anti-graft agency has already filed a notice of appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment at the Supreme Court.
Atolagbe had urged the court not to unfreeze the account yet until the final decision of the Supreme Court in the matter adding that the N2.1 billion logged into the frozen account formed the basis of the charge.
Atolagbe also opposed the request for the release of Dokpesi’s document in possession of EFCC adding that no specific document was mentioned in the Request.
The EFCC counsel had drawn the attention of the court to DSS and NIA made as respondents in the matter adding that the two agencies are not before the court and as such court can not make valid orders against them.