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Pay N13 Million Fine Or Serve 2 Year Jail Term, Court Tells Okupe

Dr Doyin Okupe, the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has been ordered by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to pay a fine of N13 million or serve two years jail term.

In a judgment on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu found the former President Goodluck Jonathan Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Public Affairs guilty of contravening sections 16(1)&(2) of the Money Laundering Act, for accepting cash payments without going through the financial institution, in excess of the threshold allowed under the Act.

Justice Ojukwu was found guilty of receiving over N240 million in cash from former former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

Ojukwu, in a judgment delivered held that the action of Okupe, who is the first defendant in the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) violated the Money Laundering Act.

Okupe’s conviction is in connection to Dasuki’s arms deal which he was arraigned in 2019. The court said his plea of ignorance of the source of the N240m is no excuse.

While stating that the Act provides that no individual or organization shall receive any sum above N5 million and N10 million respectively without passing through a financial institution, the judge held that “there is no evidence that the money passed through a financial institution.”

According to Justice Ojukwu, the NSA was not a financial institution, adding that even if the president was said to have authorized the funds, he did not say that the money must be paid in cash in violation of the money laundering.

Consequently the court held, “I find the first defendant, Dr Doyin Okupe guilty in count 34, 35, 36…… 59.

The judge however found the defendants not guilty in counts 1 to 33 on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish the charge of money Laundering and criminal breach of trust and corruption against the NSA.

In counts 34 to 59 upon which Okupe was convicted, he was accused of receiving various sums ranging from N10 million on different occasions from 2012 to 2015 when he was SSA to president Jonathan.

The said sum according to him were expended on running the office, payment of staffs and image laundering of the former president and his administration.

But the court however held that receiving such amounts in cash violated the Money Laundering Act.

Shortly after his conviction, his lawyer Mr Francis Oronsaye, pleaded with the court to tamper justice with mercy on the grounds that the defendant was a first time offender, a family man who is also advanced in age and having health challenges that he is currently treating in Nigeria and outside the country.

Oronsaye, citing Section 310 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, urged the court to stand down the matter to enable him call witnesses that will attest to the good character of Okupe.

Lawyers to the second and third defendants also lend their voices in the plea for mercy, adding that the convict was a mere victim of circumstances.

Although the request was opposed by prosecution lawyer, Mr Audu Ibrahim, the judge however stood down the matter to enable the defendant called his witnesses before handing down her sentence.

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