N1.28bn Fraud: Senator Akpan in fresh trouble over own evidence before EFCC

Supreme Court

  • Admits collecting N303m car worth for his 2014 governorship bid
  • As FG moves to arraign him, recover all undeclared assets

Ahead final pronouncement of the Supreme Court in a three-year old political dispute involving Mr Bassey Albert Akpan and Hon Bassey Etim regarding who between them should lawfully represent Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial seat at the Senate, the former (Akpan) has formally admitted that he was an aspirant for 2014 Akwa Ibom State governorship election and had collected various gifts from people including a controversial car gift of N303 million from one Jide Omokore.

He made the admission on oath before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) while trying to wriggle out of his alleged involvement in a N1.28 billion fraud against the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2014.

His explanation to the EFCC contradicted his position before different levels of the court in the country including the Supreme Court in the last three years on how he was allegedly smuggled into the list of candidates that contested the primary election for the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial seat in the state.

According to his opponent before the Supreme Court, Hon Bassey Etim, “I am now justified by this admission by Senator Akpan that he actually aspired to become the governor of my state in 2015 and did buy the nomination form in 2014 but that when he failed, the poers that be smuggled his name into the list of senatorial candidates for the primary election in the party after the nomination form had closed. Even at that, he lost the primary election to me.

“I made this an issue before the Federal high court which sat in Uyo to establish that his emergence was un-procedural and illegal and even provided documentary evidence which he denied. The court heard us and pronounced on this issue in my favour.

“Without any doubt, his admission on oath before the EFCC has also justified the position of the Federal high court in my favour to the effect that Senator Akpan wrongly came into the senatorial race by way of his emergence,” he added.

Akpan, it would be recalled, had, hitherto, denied any gubernatorial ambition when the suit on his emergence as the candidate of PDP for the 2015 Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial election raged between 2015 and April 2018.

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But he appeared to have dropped that line of argument when he was fingered as part beneficiary of an alleged slush fund exceeding one billion naira.

It would be recalled that Hon Bassey Etim who was declared by the Federal high court as the rightful owner of the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial seat at the senate had maintained that Senator Bassey Akpan was never an aspirant let alone winner of Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial primary election which held on December 7, 2014 on the account that Akpan aspired for the 2014 Akwa Ibom governorship of the PDP.

Hon Bassey Etim had produced the bank account record of Akpan indicating his payment for the gubernatorial nomination form to back up his claim.

He however added that few days before the primary poll, after nomination had closed for the senatorial seat in the state, Akpan was foisted or forced on the party as an aspirant.

He also claimed that notwithstanding the controversial nature of his entrance into the Akwa Ibom North East senatorial race, Etim said he thoroughly defeated Akpan and eight others in the primary poll of December 7, 2014 but that the PDP again bypassed the authentic election result and foisted Akpan as winner and candidate of the PDP in the 2015 Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial district election. 

He said the trial Federal high court had since established all the irregularities, voided Akpan’s election and declared him the winner of the senatorial poll.

Although the Court of Appeal had voided the judgment of the Federal high court, the bone of contention regarding Akpan’s controversial emergence as candidate of the PDP in the 2015 Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial seat is alive before the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, ahead the judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter particularly on the nature of his emergence as PDP candidate for the senatorial seat, Senator Akpan is presently contending that he not only indicated interest in the gubernatorial election of his state in 2014 but that he also collected car gifts worth N303 million from just an individual.

The senator who admitted collecting the cars from Mr. Jide Omokore said that the gifts were meant to aid his 2014 governorship campaign in Akwa Ibom State.

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He said, “The vehicles are gifts from Jide Omokore on the need to ensure my personal safety. I have known him for 19 years since 1997. They are also contributions to my governorship campaigns in 2014.”

The embattled senator according to a top anonymous source in Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property has refused to honour several invitations sent across to him to answer questions on the alleged car gifts.

“We have subsequently invited Senator Bassey twice but he has refused to honour our invitation. He was expected to come for interaction last week but he did not show up’’ the source said.

He had since been arrested in connection with the issue and detained for a few days to answer questions on the matter.

Before delving into politics, impeccable source disclosed that Akpan was a banker with an average monthly salary of at least N200,000 and that since he joined politics, he had no other source of income apart from his salaries and allowances from government.

Notwithstanding the known source of income, investigations by operatives of Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property showed that he had acquired so much assets that he could not disclose in his assets declaration form when he resumed as senator for alleged fear of being probed.

Already, the Federal Government had traced a number of assets to Senator Bassey Akpan and is presently before the Federal high court to obtain an exparte order to temporarily forfeit them being not disclosed to the Federal Government pending further investigation

For instance, the senator had indicated in his Asset Declaration Form that he had no Foreign Account while at the same time he claimed to acquire his London properties with Mortgage from Barclays Bank of London without explanation on how he is repaying the alleged mortgage.

Mr. Akpan was also alleged to have palatial mansions in the United States and other countries which he allegedly concealed fraudulently from the relevant authorities.

Some of the listed properties he allegedly acquired with funds suspected to be proceeds of crime either in person or through cronies which he failed to declare and concealing till date include:

(a). 18 JibrilAminu Crescent, Diplomatic Zone, Katampe Extension, Abuja.

(b). 5 Chu OkongwuLink, Diplomatic Zone, Katampe Extension, Abuja.

(c). 11 Bola Ajibola Crescent, Diplomatic zone, Katampe Extension, Abuja.

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(d). 22 Road, D-Close Gwarimpa Estate by Charlie Boy, Gwarimpa District, Abuja.

(e). No. 8 Unit B, D Line Ewet Housing Estate, UyoAkwaIbom State

(f). 3 Storey Building (Hostel) of about 28 Rooms located at UdoEtte Street, off Ikpa Road, UyoAkwaIbom State.

(g). Twin Storey Building. No 4, NsikakEduok Avenue. Uyo, AkwaIbom.

(h). Tantalizers PLC. No 151 Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Opposite IdongesitNkanga Secretariat. Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State.

Already, the Nigerian Government is seeking an interim order of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to temporary seize all the listed properties/assets of senator Akpan  located in London and Abuja, for being not on the list of his declared assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

The Motion Ex-Parte was brought before the court pursuant to Section 330 of the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act, 2015; Section 8 Of The Recovery Of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act and Section 44 (2)(K) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended).

The case was filed before the court by Festus Keyamo, SAN on behalf of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.

In an affidavit deposed in support of the Motion Ex-parte, by Yohanna Shankuk, a litigation clerk in Festus Keyamo Chambers, it stated thus:

“That the Respondent has been a public officer and has not earned anything outside his salaries and allowances as a public officer.

‘’That it has become imperative for the Applicant to approach this Honourable Court for an Order temporarily attaching/forfeiting the said properties listed in Schedule B to the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the conclusion of further investigations and possible arraignment of the Respondent.

‘’That without the orders of this Honourable Court attaching/forfeiting the said properties, the likelihood of the frustration of investigations as well as the dissipation of the said properties is very high.

‘’That this matter is of utmost public interests and concern, to enable the Applicant carry out a thorough investigation into the activities of the Respondent in the acquisition of the said properties as it relates to the allegation of a breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.

‘’That this order is necessary to enable the Panel carry out its statutory duties and functions of investigation and recovery of public properties’’.