Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, a South West sociopolitical group and advocate of power shift to the South East on Thursday 12th, described the arrest of former Director General (DG) of Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Dr. Doyin Okupe, as being politically motivated and unwarranted.
Department of State Services (DSS) had intercepted Okupe at Terminal 1 of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, following a request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Okupe, who had been scheduled to fly to London “has long been handed over to the Commission (EFCC),” said DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya.
A statement by President of Yoruba Ronu Forum, Akin Malaolu, said the group was not surprised at the unjustifiable arrest. “What is, however, alarming is the bellicose nature of our security agents, who have made themselves bigger than the law and the nation.”
According to the statement, “if anything at all, it is a confirmation that no innocent person will be safe again under a state of police authoritarianism whose personnel are majorly from one section of the country and lack of discipline has made them to be used for political vendetta as was displayed on Okupe at the airport.
“The current government and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari should wield the big stick and show Nigerians that impunity of any kind will no longer be condoned by his person.
“A time will come when a responsible government and leader will have to merge the DSS back with the Nigerian Police for easy monitoring and supervision. This impunity can only be noticeable in a stateless state like Somalia and not in Nigeria where the Constitution is still operational.
“We hope the head of the department will give human face to its activities in future.”
Similarly, one of Okupe’s lawyers, Tolu Babaleye, asked: “When will this harassment stop? Who is after Dr. Okupe? As of today, the man has no case to answer. I, hereby, demand that the DSS release my client immediately, as this is a violation of his freedom of movement, right to liberty and dignity of human person. This is unfair, as the man’s health is failing fast.”
On the arrest, Babalaye said: “The reason, according to source, is that he (Okupe) was asked to produce evidence that the Federal High Court Abuja had freed him from the case in which he was convicted, and paid fine, to the knowledge of the whole world, and was allowed to go home.”
The EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, while reacting to the arrest said the DSS informed the Commission of the interception.
He noted that the security agency acted on a watch list request issued on July 18th, 2016.
He said: “DSS, today, January 12th, informed the Commission of the interception of Dr. Doyin Okupe, former presidential adviser, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
“The Service acted on a watch list request issued on July 18th, 2016, over six years before his recent conviction on money laundering charges by the Federal High Court, Abuja.” Okupe was later released yesterday.
“The Commission was in the process of formally lifting the watch list before his interception and will expedite action in this regard.”
Recall that Okupe was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for breaching the Money Laundering Act.
The EFCC had arraigned him for receiving N702 million in illegal payment from funds meant to procure arms in the fight against insurgency in 2019.
Justice Ojukwu of the Federal High Court held that Okupe was guilty of contravening Sections 16(1)&(2) of the Money Laundering Act, having accepted cash payments without going through a financial institution, in excess of the threshold allowed under the Act.