A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the money laundering trial of Doyin Okupe, a former senior special assistant on public affairs to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan till March 5, 2021 for continuation of trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Okupe, alongside his two companies: Value Trust Investments and Abrahams Telecoms on 59 counts bordering on money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N702,000,000.
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At the resumed trial on Monday, the defence presented its fourth witness, Bamidele Salami, a member of the House of Representatives, who served as head of media in the office of the then senior special assistant on public affairs to President Jonathan.
Led by Joe Kyari Gadzama, SAN, the witness told the court that “there were approximately 30 staff (members) in different units of the office and the office was funded by the Presidency through the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd)”.
He disclosed that funding in the sum of N10 million was provided on a monthly basis in cash to Doyin Okupe through an officer in ONSA.
Bamidele further revealed that N3 million was paid for a programme, 'Insight' on Nigerian Television Authority, to correct the negative perception of the former President.
He said it was untrue that the programme was aired “free of charge” as corporate social responsibility by the NTA.
During cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Ibrahim Audu, the witness was asked whether a weekly publication in the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), The Federalist, is a private company. The witness, in response, informed the court that The Federalist is not a registered private company with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) but a publication of ONSA.
He, however, claimed ignorance of any contractual agreement between The Federalist newspaper and the Office of National Security Adviser.
According to a release by the EFCC, Bamidele also told the court that he did not have the exact figure of the money that was paid for media engagements, honorarium and other public relations engagements, “but it cost a lot”.
The defence witness’ evidence on the sponsorship of Insight on NTA contradicted the testimony of the first prosecution witness (PW1), Osas Azonabor, an operative of the EFCC, who had told the court "that no receipt was issued for the payment to NTA. However, a letter was written to NTA and investigations further revealed that the programme was aired free of charge as directed by the then Director General of NTA, who said the programme was to be seen as the Corporate Social Responsibility of the NTA."
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu thereafter adjourned the trial.
Saharareporters, New York