By Uche Amunike
Former Senior Special Assistant to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and Campaign Director General of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe, has just paid the sum of N13 million Naira as an option of fine after being sentenced to 2 years imprisonment by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned him in 2019 on a 59 count charge that bordered on alleged money laundering and diversion of the sum of N702 million.
Okupe was found guilty of receiving over a cash sum of N200 million from former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).
Justice Ojukwu, while delivering her sentence, stated that the Money Laundering Act provided that no individual or Organization shall receive any sum above N5m and N10m respectively without passing through a financial institution.
According to her, there was no evidence that the money in question passed through a financial institution and that Doyin Okupe was not a financial institution. She further stated that even if President Buhari was said to have authorized the funds, he did not state that the money must be paid in cash.
The court also found Doyin Okupe guilty in counts 34, 35, 36 to 59 and set him free from counts 1 to 33 since the prosecution could not establish the charge of money laundering and criminal breach of trust and corruption against the NSA.
He was convicted in counts 34 to 59 for receiving different sums of money that ranged from N10m in different occasions between 2012 and 2015 during his time of service to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Even though the embattled Doyin Okupe claimed that the said amount of money was used to run his office, pay staff members and for the image laundering of Jonathan’s administration, the court held that receiving such humongous amounts in cash was a complete violation of the Money Laundering Act.
Counsel to Okupe, Francis Oronsaye made a plea to the court to temper Justice with Mercy, since he was a first-time offender and elderly family man with health challenges which is currently being treated in Nigeria and outside the shores of the country.
Citing Section 310 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, Oronsaye pleaded with the court to stand down the matter in order to give him time to bring in witnesses that would attest to the good character of Okupe. The judge granted this request and his wife and son were eventually brought in as witnesses.
In his reaction to the judgment, earlier, the Media Officer of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Duran Onifade, stated that the N13m fine had indeed been paid by Doyin Okupe as requested by the court, maintaining that the Labour Party has great respect for the rule of law and therefore, it’s officials have no choice than to obey court judgments promptly.
He however stated that it was up to Okupe to personally decide if he would appeal the judgment or not.