FORMER presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe was yesterday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on 59-count charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Okupe, who was spokesman to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and Senior Special Assistant to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, is charged with “money laundering and criminal diversion of funds” to the tune of N702 million.
He was arraigned, with two companies, Value Trust Investment Limited and Abrahams Telecoms Limited, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.
One of the counts reads: “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 October 3, 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.”
Okupe pleaded not guilty when the charge was read by an official of the court, following which the prosecution lawyer, Ibrahim Audu, asked for a date for the beginning of trial.
Defence lawyer Tolu Babaleiye argued the bail application he filed, which was dated December 17, 2018.
Babaleiye urged the court to admit the defendant to bail on self-recognisance and that he would not jump bail as he is well-known.
But, Audu argued that the defendant was given administrative bail after he volunteered his statement. Thereafter, he was nowhere to be found until December 2018 in Lagos.
He said there was nothing substantial in the defendant’s affidavit.
He added that there was nothing to show that the medical certificate was authentic and nothing to show it meets the requirements of the Evidence Act as it was electronically generated.
Audu said: “The court should exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously based on materials supplied before the court.”
He urged the court to take into consideration, “the gravity of the punishment in the event of conviction on the charges brought against the defendant”.
After listening to both lawyers, Justice Ojukwu granted bail to Okupe for N100 million with one surety in the same amount.
Justice Ojukwu said: “The surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court, and must depose to an affidavit of means, must have landed properties, which must also be within the jurisdiction of the court.
The surety must submit to the court tax clearance papers from 2016 to 2018, also have recent passport photograph. The surety and defendant must deposit their international passport to the court. The documents are to be deposited with the Deputy Chief Registrar Litigation of the court.”
The judge adjourned to February 27, 28 and March 6, 2019 for trial.