Thursday, February 9, 2023

Okupe jailed two years for money laundering

The Director-General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Doyin Okupe, has been sentenced to two years for breaching the Money Laundering Act.

The PUNCH reported that Okupe was convicted of the offence on Monday by a Federal High Court in Abuja.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu presiding over the case on Monday found Okupe guilty of contravening sections 16(1)&(2) of the Money Laundering Act and accepting cash in excess of the threshold allowed under the Act without going through a financial institution.

Okupe was on found guilty of receiving over N200 million cash from a former former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd).

He was therefore sentenced to two years by Justice Ojuwku with an option of N500, 000 fine on each of the 26 count charge for which he was found guilty.

Delivering her judgment, the judge held that Okupe, who is the first defendant in the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, violated the Money Laundering Act, and had up to 4:30 pm on Monday to pay the fine option, totalling the sum of N13 million on all the charges he was found guilty of or be sent the Kuje Correctional Centre.

Justice Ojukwu, in sentencing Okupe, considered the pleadings for leniency from the wife of the convict, Omolola Okupe, and that of his son, Adesunkanmi Okupe, and the allocutus by his counsel.

While stating that the Money Laundering Act provided that no individual or organisation 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” and that Okupe was not a financial institution, and that, even if the president was said to have authorised the funds, he did not say that the money must be paid in cash in violation of the money laundering.

Consequently, the court found the former SSA to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan guilty in counts 34, 35, 36 to 59 and set him free from counts one 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 of money ranging from N10 million on different occasions from 2012 to 2015 when he was SSA to Jonathan.

The said sum according to him were expended on running the office, payment of staff members 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, Okupe’s counsel, 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 was 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 would attest to the good character of Okupe, a request the court granted and Okupe’s wife and son pleaded for mercy in the sentencing of the former SSA, a request which the court granted, and the wife and one of his child were called.

They both told the court that Okupe was a loving and caring father, whose love and care extended to people who were not his biological children, adding that Okupe was a great man with integrity and good character.

The counsel for the second and third defendants also lended their voices in the plea for mercy, adding that the convict was a mere victim of circumstance.

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