After paying a fine of N13 million, Dr. Doyin Okupe, former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, and chieftain of the Labour party is no longer going to spend two years in prison following his conviction on Monday by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja.
Given an option of fine for each of the 26 charges he was convicted or spend 52 years in jail for each of the charges, Okupe paid up before the deadline of 4.30 p.m. set by the and may be cooling his heels at home.
He would have only spent two years because the sentence was to run concurrently.
In its judgment, the trial court held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, established its case against Okupe, that evidence before it established that the defendant had in the discharge of his official duties, accepted cash payments that were above the statutory threshold, without recourse to a financial institution.
It was alleged that Okupe received funds from the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, which he could not account for. He was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment on counts 34 to 59. The charges are centred on accusations of receiving various sums ranging from N10million in different occasions from 2012 to 2015 from ONSA when he was senior special assistant on public affairs to former President Goodluck Jonathan. The court however gave the defendant an option of N500, 000 fine on each of the counts.
He was however discharged on counts one to 33 which bordered on money laundering and criminal breach of trust
He was mandated to pay the fine before 4.30 pm or be committed to prison.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC had arraigned Okupe alongside his two companies: Value Trust Investments and Abrahams Telecoms on a 59-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N702,000,000 (Seven Hundred and Two Million Naira only) .
One of the charges Okupe is facing is: “That you, Dr. Doyin Okupe, being the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan from July 2012 to May 2015, and being the managing director, chief executive officer, and a signatory to the bank account of Abrahams Telecoms Ltd, on or about the 3rd October, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, directly took possession or control of the sum of N35 million, transferred to the account of Abrahams Telecoms Ltd from the account of the Office of the National Security Adviser with the Central Bank of Nigeria, purporting to be for special services when you reasonably ought to have known that the said fund formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity”.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges upon arraignment, setting the stage for his full trial. In the course of the trial, the EFCC called several witnesses and tendered documents which were admitted in evidence.
After the prosecution closed its case, Okupe refused to open his defence. Instead, he made a no-case submission, that the prosecution had not satisfied the requirement of proving its case beyond reasonable doubt and failed to prove that he acquired the money illegally as charged. This was subsequently dismissed by the court, which ordered him to open his defence.
The convict called a number of witnesses in the course of his defence. One of the witnesses who testified as the fourth defence witness was Honourable Bamidele Salami, a member of the House of Representatives, who served as head of media in the office of the then senior special assistant on public affairs to President Jonathan. He had told the court on February 8, 2021 that “there were approximately 30 staff in different units of the office and the office was funded by the Presidency through the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA under Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd)”.
He disclosed that funding in the sum of N10 million Naira was provided on a monthly basis in cash to Doyin Okupe through an officer in ONSA.
Bamidele further revealed that N3million was paid for a programme, ‘Insight’ on NTA, to correct the negative perception of the former President.
When the judge asked 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, his wife and so did among others.
Okupe’s wife and son of Okupe had earlier pleaded for leniency after he was convicted.
Mrs. Omolola Okupe decsribed her husband as a good man.
“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 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 serve the nation and he is not here today because he is 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.
His son, Adesunkanmi, pleading for leniency, said: “I have known him for 31 years.
“He is a man of honesty and integrity with great character..
“I have a privilege of being mentored by him throughout my life time.
“He had imparted in me high value of perseverance and hard work that greatness comes by following God, unbending faith and diligence.
“This among many other is what I have learnt about Okupe.”