Court Fines Okupe For Honest Mistake
A Federal High court sitting in Abuja has fined Dr. Doyin Okupe the sum 500,000 naira each for a two count charge of accepting cash payments in excess of amount allowed under the Money Laundering Act without going through financial institution.
This judgment was pronounced on Monday by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu
who had earlier discharged Okupe of count 1 to 33 which bothered on corruption, stealing and misappropriation of money he received from Col. Sambo Dasuki to run his appointed office.
Meanwhile, the court found Okupe guilty of innocently breaching sections 16(1) and (2) of the Money Laundering Act, the judge nonetheless emphasized that the
former Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Media to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had only made an honest mistake.
However, in line with the provisions of Section 310 and 311 of ACJA 2015, Doyin Okupe called 4 witnesses to establish his good character. The first witness called by Okupe was a former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife.
The Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party (LP) also called Dr. Idi Muhammed Farrouk, his wife and one of his sons who all testified to his impeccable character.
He was however sentenced to a two year imprisonment which is to run concurrently for each of the two counts;; but with an option of #500,000 fine for each of the two counts.
Also, Ezenwa Ibegbunam, counsel for the 3rd Def. stated, “It is important to emphasis that no case of money laundering and corruption was proved against Dr. Doyin Okupe. The court emphatically cleared, discharged and acquitted the Defendants of all the allegations of money laundering and corruption as contained on counts 1 to 33 of the Charge.
Clearing the Defendants of allegations of money laundering and corruption is an eloquent testimony of Dr. Doyin Okupe being a person of impeachable character and integrity. “
He also faulted the verdict of court which bordered on accepting cash payment above 5million naira.
He said,”I must also state that the decision of the court on the counts 34 to 59 of the Charge which bordered on accepting cash payment above 5million naira is not legally sustainable.
“The judgment is patently erroneous on that aspect.
“This is because Section 2 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act which prescribes the limit of cash payment is clearly not applicable to the case.
“This is because there are material evidence of the various payment vouchers before the Court. These payment vouchers showed that the cash payments were made to the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs and not to Dr. Doyin Okupe in his individual or personal capacity.
“You will recall that the office of the SSA on public Affairs was created by former President Goodluck Jonathan in his constitutional capacity as the President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Therefore the office of the SSA on public affairs is not an illegality.
“Now, Section 2 of the Money Laundering Act clearly states that “NO PERSON OR BODY CORPORATE” shall make or accept cash payment in excess of the financial threshold of 5million for an individual or 10million for a body corporate.
“Now, the office of the SSA to which those monies were paid to by the ONSA is not a “PERSON OR BODY CORPORATE ” as contemplated under the Money Laundering Act. Therefore, the provisions of the Money Laundering Act does not simply apply.
“Again, at all times Dr. Doyin Okupe was a mere agent and the Office of the SSA on Public affairs is the main principal. The law is firmly settled that an agent of a disclosed principal cannot be personally liable for the acts of the principal.
“It was a clear case of misinterpretation of the law and will be immediately challenged on appeal. And I believe, the Appellate court, looking at the evidence, will.have no hesitation in setting aside the conviction.” He said.