By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Tuesday, arraigned erstwhile Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on a 59-count money laundering charge.
EFCC alleged that Okupe serially received cash payments from the Office of the National Security Adviser for “special Services”.
He was alleged to have diverted a total of N702 million, using accounts of his two companies, Value Trust Investment Limited and Abrahams Telecoms Ltd.
One of the counts read: “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 October 3, 2014 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, directly took possession or control 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.”
Okupe pleaded not guilty to the charge even as his lawyer, Mr. Tolu Babaleiye, urged the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
Babaleiye drew attention of the court to his client’s bail application dated December 17, adding that the defendant would be available to face his trial.
“My lord the defendant will in no way tamper with evidence since the proof of evidence is already before the court, which means that investigation has been concluded”, he added.
The defence lawyer prayed the court to allow his client to go home on self recognition, saying he would not jump bail in view of the strength of his personality in the country.
Babaleiye further attached a medical report to prove that his client was in need of urgent medical attention.
In his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Ibrahim Audu, who had earlier requested for a date to produce witnesses against the defendant, opposed Okupe’s bail application.
Audu told the court that Okupe vanished shortly after he was granted administrative bail by the anti-graft agency.
“My lord the defendant was granted administrative bail after he volunteered his statement at the Commission, thereafter, he was nowhere to be found until December 2018 in Lagos”, the prosecution told the court.
He contended that the defendant failed to adduce any material in his affidavit that was capable of swaying the court to exercise its discretion in his favour, saying there was nothing to show that the medical certificate the defendant brought before the court was authentic or met the test of admissibility, being an electronically generated document.
“We urge the court to exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously, based on materials supplied before it”, EFCC’s lawyer added, stressing that “the gravity of the punishment in the event of conviction on the charges brought against the defendant”, should also be considered by the court.
After listening to both parties, Justice Ojukwu granted bail to the defendant in the sum of N100 million with one surety in like sum.
The Judge stressed that the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court, and must depose to an affidavit of means, as well as have landed properties within Abuja.
Besides, the court directed that the surety must submit to the court, a tax clearance papers from 2016 to 2018, and a recent passport photograph.
The surety and defendant are to deposit their international passport to the Deputy Chief Registrar, Litigation, of the court.
Justice Ojukwu subsequently adjourned the case to February 27, 28 and March 6 for trial.