Arms Deal: Okupe Pays N13m Fine, Escapes Two-Year Jail Term For Money Laundering

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BY SEGUN ADEBAYO – For being involved in diverting arms funds from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has sentenced former Special Adviser to the President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, to a two-year jail term with an option of fine.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Monday held that the prosecution successfully proved a case of money laundering and therefore awarded the total sum of N13 million in fines against the former presidential aide.

However, as ruled by the Court, Okupe, who is the current Director General of the Labour Party (LP) Presidential Campaign Council, succeeded in paying his fine before the deadline and was allowed to go free.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2019 charged Okupe on a 59-count charge bordering on money laundering and diversion of funds to the tune of N240 million from the then NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Those arraigned with him are two companies: Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abrahams Telecoms Ltd.

In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu convicted Okupe in 26 out of the 59-count charges preferred against him by the EFCC and thereafter slammed a sentence of two years for each of the 26 counts to run concurrently or an option of N500,000 fine for each.

The Court further ordered that where the fine is not paid by 4.30 pm on Monday, Okupe would be sent to jail, explaining that the judgment was arrived at after listening to the plea for leniency by eminent Nigerians, including the former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, former Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Alhaji Idi Farouk, wife of Okupe, Omolara and his son.

Earlier, the judge had stood down proceedings for Okupe to exercise his right under Section 310 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) to call witnesses to testify about his character, before the court could proceed to pronounce sentence on the convict.

While testifying to the convict’s good character, his wife and son, Mrs Aduralere and Mr Adesunkanmi Okupe had pleaded for leniency, begging the court to temper justice with mercy with Aduralere describing her husband as a good man.

According to her; “I got married to him on the 1st of May, 1991. My husband is a very good person. He had been a role model to myself and my children with sound Christian values.

“I have never found him in any allegation of this before. I will like to appeal to the court for leniency. My husband has dedicated his life to serving the nation and he is not here today because he has been found guilty of the offence, but because of his mistake.

“I ask the court to consider his health and age which is 70 years. He has run his family effectively my lord,” she said.

In appealing for leniency by the court, Adesunkanmi on his part; “I have known him for 31 years. He is a man of honesty and integrity with great character. I have had the privilege of being mentored by him throughout my life.

“He had imparted in me a high value of perseverance and hard work that greatness comes by following God, unbending faith, and diligence. This among many others is what I have learned about Okupe.”

The Court thereafter noted that Okupe was a first offender, with no previous criminal record, and “he never wasted the time and resources of the court.”

Accordingly, the Court found Okupe guilty in counts 34, 35, 36 to 59 and sets him free from counts 1 to 33 because 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 of money ranging from N10m on different occasions from 2012 to 2015 when he was Jonathan’s aide.

He had explained that the said sum was spent on running his office, payment of staff members, and image laundering of the former President and his administration. But, the court held that receiving such amounts in cash violated the Money Laundering Act.

Meanwhile, a check at the court at about 6 pm showed that Okupe was able to pay the fine in full. A competent source hinted that Okupe was able to pay the fine as prescribed by the Court and his counsel successfully returned with the relevant bank papers around 4.25 pm.

“The court was gracious enough to process the papers and everyone, including counsel to the EFCC, duly signed them to guarantee his freedom”, the source said

In a tweet shortly after his release by the Court, Okupe said; “God is not man. The enemies have tried in so many ways but kept on failing. Victory is of God”.

Reacting to the development, the Labour Party leadership on Monday said it was waiting to obtain and study a true certified copy of the Court judgment convicting Okupe before taking a position on the matter.

Reports quoted the spokesman of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, as making the submission shortly after the story on Okupe’s conviction was reported in the media space.

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