A prosecution witness on Wednesday told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant on Media to former President Goodluck Jonathan collected N702 million from government’s treasury “for doing nothing”.
The witness, Osas Azonabor, was speaking at an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court where Okupe is facing trial on 59 counts for allegedly diverting the said amount.
According to a statement by the commission, Azonabor said the defendant allegedly received the sum in different tranches between 2012 and 2014.
According to the statement, Azonabor told the court that the commission began investigating the former media aide after it was tipped off about the alleged fraud in 2016.
“Azonabor told the court that the EFCC wrote to the ONSA, demanding the vouchers of the payments made to Okupe.
“According to him, after analysing the payment vouchers, it was realised that cash payment of N50 million, was made into Okupe’s account, as stated in the voucher of April 8, 2014.
“He also stated that another cash payment of N6 million was found to have been made to Okupe on April 2, 2014. He explained that there were series of payment in multiples of N10 million that was made to Okupe between 2012 to 2014.”
The witness gave the testimony while answering questions from a lawyer, Ibrahim Audu who also works for the EFCC.
The witness further told the court that EFCC’s investigation found the sum of N50 million paid into Zenith Bank account of Value Trust Investment Limited, which Okupe is a director.
He said another N35 million was paid into the account of Abraham Telecoms Nig Limited, in which Okupe is a signatory.
“He told us he was the Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan from 2012 and was placed on a monthly salary of N835, 000, paid to him by the SGF,” Azonabor said.
“Okupe said he was paid N10 million monthly for 24 months by ONSA and that the money was reduced to N5 million monthly from January 2015 to May 2015.
“Okupe said the money was for special services and when asked to elaborate what he meant by ‘special services’, Okupe said part of the money was used to sponsor ‘Insight’, a programme on NTA”.
In the course of the investigation, Okupe reportedly submitted a budget proposal by NTA to EFCC, the statement said.
It, however, added that a letter was written to the TV station to confirm the authenticity of the document that emanated from NTA.
In response to that letter, the NTA agreed that the document came from them but added that the said programme was aired free of charge, in line with the television’s regulations for addressing its corporate social responsibility.
The witness further informed the court that Okupe claimed that part of the money collected from ONSA was used to pay workers, but when asked to show proof of payment he only brought a list of names on a written piece of paper and also a typed paper.
“There was no payment voucher, receipt or pay slip to show evidence of payment and when we asked him to produce staff he paid to, he couldn’t produce any,” Azonabor said.
“However, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) documents of the Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abraham Telecoms Nig Ltd, and a letter of response from ONSA to the EFCC Acting Chairman and statements of the defendants were all admitted in evidence,” the statement said.
The case has been adjourned till Thursday for cross-examination.
Okupe, among others, is facing trial for alleged diversion of funds from the Office of the former NSA.