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Veteran broadcaster, Atere, testifies against Doyin Okupe

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[FILE] Former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Mr. Doyin Okupe.

The trial of Doyin Okupe, erstwhile senior special assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, continued yesterday with veteran broadcaster, Olusola Atere, testifying against him.

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) is prosecuting Okupe on a 59-count charge of money laundering and criminal diversion of N702 million.

Standing as Prosecution Witness 2 (PW2), Atere, who retired as executive director (news) at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in 2016, told the court that Okupe came to the NTA and met the management of the news directorate, to request the production of one hour programme to promote the policies and programmes of the then Federal Government.

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He said: “We held a meeting and started planning for the programme. Subsequently, members of Okupe’s team came for another meeting with NTA.”

Atere told the court that after the meeting, he was directed to raise a memo to send a budget proposal to the office of the senior special assistant on public affairs on October 9, 2013, for which he said no response came from Okupe.

He further disclosed that the NTA appointed a producer for the proposed programme to liaise with the team from Okupe’s office.

According to the broadcaster, by October 23, 2013, he was directed by the executive director (news) to raise a memo to the acting director-general of NTA, informing him of Okupe’s request and that by October 24, 2013, the DG minuted him that the programme should be taken as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and be broadcast at no cost.

Atere informed the court that he didn’t have much to do with the programme from that point, as the producer was liaising with Okupe’s team.

He revealed that Okupe provided the three guests that discussed weekly on the programme and arranged to provide the presenters.

“So I can’t say what kind of arrangement was made in bringing guests who were experts and ministers,” Atere said.

“Okupe never failed to provide guests and anchor person. But at one point, the presenter failed to show up and so I asked the producer what went wrong and was told that the presenter said Okupe did not pay them.

“The presenter asked if NTA could continue to sustain them. But NTA said it could not pay, as it didn’t know the arrangement. But we decided to bring two NTA staff who would not charge for the production.”

During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Joe Gadzama (SAN), Atere told the court that he was not aware of the arrangement Okupe made with the guests.

On the letter he reportedly signed for payment of over N3 million from Okupe’s office and NTA’s request for more money, he said: “I didn’t have any financial relationship with them. The producer will be in a better position to explain. But I never collected any money,” he said.

He also claimed there was a slight difference in the signature in the letter with him, though the letter bore his name.

The case was adjourned till March 15, 2019.


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