Okupe is an ex-convict, US-based Attorney Seun Lawal replies former NBA president Daudu

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A US-based Attorney, Seun Lawal has disagreed with a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Joseph Daudu about the legal status of Dr Doyin Okupe after his conviction by an Abuja Federal High Court earlier this week.

Chief Joseph Daudu, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had earlier in a Facebook post stated that the embattled former Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, has not been found guilty of fraud or corruption by the court.

He wrote: “What he was convicted for are not issues bordering on fraud, defalcation or corruption. He was merely convicted for accepting cash and expending same, which cash could not be said to have originated from a financial institution.”

Daudu also added that the category of offences which spending cash above statutory thresholds belong are not felonies but mere regulatory financial misdemeanors.

“No one in the eyes of the law bags the label of an ex-convict for such conviction,” the former NBA president added.

However, Mr Seun Lawal in a response disagreed with his submission.

According to him, there is no recognised legal distinction of the nature being relied upon by Daudu.

He further submitted that offenses are categorised as misdemeanours and felonies and a conviction under any category would make the accused person an ex-convict.

He wrote: “Most Respected and Eminent Learned Silk, sir, I tend to have a lit bit of a disagreement with your analysis on this subject.

“Fines and jail time are the standard penalties for a criminal conviction, whether for a felony or a misdemeanor. I am yet to come across the legal distinction (which appears in your analysis as an artificial distinction in my estimation), that makes an individual a non-convict for a misdemeanor offense and conviction for same. Doyin Okupe’s conviction was grounded under a criminal legislation.

“Criminal laws are geared towards convicting offenders for a violation of the prescriptions in those laws. Offenses are categorized as misdemeanors and felonies and a conviction under either category would logically make the accused person an ex-convict.”

He added that under the contemplation of the law, Doyin Okupe stands as an ex-convict and that cannot be disputed until upturned by an Appellate Court.

“Doyin Okupe is an ex-convict, for all intents and purposes.

“We are aware that Okupe’s sentence was the imposition of a certain jail term or the option of a fine. He chose the latter option. But his prerogative to choose what punishment he serves does not necessarily detract from the nature of his conviction nor does it obviate his characterization as an ex-convict.

“Strict liability offenses, as in Okupe’s case, are offenses under the law, whether they be a felony or a misdemeanor. They must not revolve around allegations of corruption, fraud, or defalcation before they can be properly categorized as offenses that could ground a criminal conviction and make the accused individual an ex-convict.

“Also, I consider your reference to ‘mere regulatory financial misdemeanors’ as being incapable of making an individual an ex-convict a tad uncomfortable. You applied traffic offenses, as an example. But a conviction for traffic offenses does not make the violator an ex-convict for a simple reason-such violations are regarded as mere ‘infractions’ which only attract the payment of a fine, and nothing more. Jail time is not an option for an infraction.

“Infractions are offenses that typically carry a punishment of fines, but not jail time. Because infractions cannot result in a jail time as a sentencing option, a defendant charged with a traffic infraction for over-speeding, as an example, cannot properly be regarded as an ex-convict,” Lawal said.

SOURCE: thenigerialawyer.com

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