Doyin Okupe Appeals Money Laundering Conviction, N13m Fine

Ex Director-general of the Peter Obi presidential campaign, Doyin Okupe has appealed his conviction by a Federal High Court, Abuja for money laundering.

In a reminder of appeal leveled on March 16, Okupe is praying the appellate court to set aside the December 19, 2022 judgment by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu.

Justice Ojukwu, in the judgment convicted Okupe on counts 34 to 59 which deal with breach of the Money Laundering Act, in which he was found to have received cash payments in excess of N5m, on each transaction, from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) under Col. Sambo Dasuki.

As it relates to counts 34 to 59, Justice Ojukwu held that the prosecution proved it’s case that Okupe committed an offence contrary Section 1(a) & (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2009, which is punishable under Section 16(1)(d) & (16(2)(b) of the same Act.

She noted that even “the first defendant (Okupe) did not deny the fact that the money, especially the ones above N5m, as shown in counts 34 to 59 of the charge, were received in cash and were not received through a financial institution.”

The judge proceeded to sentence Okupe, who was then the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the Labour Party (LP), to two years imprisonment.

Justice Ojukwu said the sentence of two years per count is to run concurrently. But, in the alternative, the judge gave Okupe the option of fine of N500,000 per count, which she said shall apply consecutively, flowing which Okupe paid a total of N13million in fine before he was freed.

READ MORE: DSS Arrests Peter Obi’s Campaign Former DG, Doyin Okupe

In his four-ground appeal, Okupe is, among others, contending that the trial judge erred in law in arriving at a guilty verdict against him in relation to counts 34 to 59 of the charge.

Okupe stated that he received the said sums in cash, not in his individual capacity, but on behalf of the office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs and under the instructions of the Ex-President and hence, should not be penalized unjustly.

On ground, Okupe said ” the trial court erred in law when it held that the complainant/prosecution has established the essential ingredients of the counts 34 to 59 of the charge pertaining to money laundering by receiving monies above the statutory threshold under the Act under which the 1st defendant was charged.”

He argued that the trial court did not in fact consider his argument to the effect that the he was not an agent or a staff of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

On ground two, Okupe stated that the trial court misdirected itself when it held that the complainant/prosecution established the essential ingredients of the offence of money laundering by personal gratification without first establishing a predicate offence of stealing involving the appellant alone or the appellant in collusion with the other persons pertaining to counts 34 to 59 of the charge.

He added: “The trial court did not consider the very important principles of law that to be guilty of the offence of money laundering by personal gratification, the appellant, tried as 1st defendant, must first be guilty of the offence of stealing or misappropriation of monies for personal gratification.”

Okupe also argued that the complainant/prosecution failed to establish how he colluded with 2nd and 3rd respondents (Value Trust Investment and Abraham Telecoms) to disguise the original source of any illicit funds or monies which is the property of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He argued that “trial court erred in law when it held that the offences under counts 34 to 59 of the charge sheet are one of strict liability, requiring mensrea and that merely collecting a sum of money over the permitted threshold was sufficient to ground liability.”

Okupe added that the proof of the offences under counts 34 — 59 did not require proof of the mental element of the offence.

He is equally contending that the judgment of the trial court is unreasonable and cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence.

Okupe wants the court to issue an order allowing the appeal and setting aside the Judgment of the trial court and to discharge and acquit him of all counts in the charge sheet.