EFCC begins probe of Akpabio

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigation
into alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds by former Governor
Godswill Akpabio.
The action followed a petition forwarded to the commission by an Abuja-
based lawyer and activist, Leo Ekpenyong.
Mr. Ekpenyong had on June 8 petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and
the EFCC, calling for Mr. Akpabio’s probe and accusing him of looting
Akwa Ibom state treasury.
Investigations by PREMIUM TIMES showed that several other indigenes of
the state who have demanded the investigation of the former governor,
have been invited by the EFCC to adopt their petitions.
On his part, Mr. Ekpenyong was summoned on Wednesday, June 17, to
adopt his petition and provide more details to some of the allegations he
made against Mr. Akpabio.
The former governor, now senator, was elected in 2007, at a time the
nation enjoyed robust oil revenue.
Akwa Ibom State and Rivers State are Nigeria’s largest oil-producing
states. The two states alternate as first and second top producers
periodically.
The two states receive the highest funds allocation from the Federation
Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, monthly.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the office of the
Accountant General of the Federation indicate that under Mr. Akpabio,
known for ostentatious spending, Akwa Ibom received a staggering N1. 6
trillion from FAAC between June 2007 and May 2014.
At the time he vacated office on May 29, the state received more, excluding
other revenues like Ecological Funds, internally generated revenue etc.
In a new petition to the EFCC dated June 22, and copied to Mr. Buhari and
the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, Mr. Ekpenyong gave details
of some of Mr. Akpabio’s alleged financial recklessness.
He indicated that between January and December 2014, the ex-governor
colluded with two of his top aides to steal a whopping N108.1 billion from
the state’s treasury.
Mr. Ekpenyong told the EFCC that the former Government House
Permanent Secretary, Etekamba Umoren, and the former Accountant
General of the state, Udo Isobara, colluded with Mr. Akpabio to steal the
funds.
“Between January –December 2014, it is on record that the trio of Godswill
Akpabio, Mr. Etekamba Umoren and Mr. Udo Isobara, made illegal but
substantial withdrawals of cash from a designated state government-
owned account with Zenith Bank with account number: 1010375881
amounting to N22.1 billion,” he stated in the petition.
“It is worthy of note that reasons for such ungodly cash withdrawals
against financial regulations and due process laws range between sundry
use and unjustifiable expenditures by Godswill Akpabio and his numerous
surrogates and proxies.
“For example, a whopping N18 billion was withdrawn fraudulently from the
state FAAC account with the United Bank for Africa in trenches of N10
million and above by Mr. Isobara in a surreptitious manner to conceal their
dishonest intention.”
For assisting Mr. Akpabio retire billions of the stolen funds, Mr. Ekpenyong
said Mr. Umoren was rewarded with an appointment as Government House
chief of staff and now secretary to the state government under Udom
Emmanuel’s administration.
The legal practitioner went on to state that over N50 billion of Akwa Ibom
funds were spent by the former governor during the last general elections.
During the period under review, he said Mr. Akpabio also withdrew a
whopping N18 billion from the state coffers under the guise of special
services, reception of very important guests and sundry items.
“The cumulative aggregate of these monies stolen by Godswill Akpabio
from the coffers of government as pocket money is the annual budget of
some states in Nigeria put together,” the petition reads.
He listed the bouquet of assets acquired by the former governor through
surrogates to include a multi-billion naira mansion at Plot 5 Okogosi
Spring Close, off Katsina-Ala Crescent, Maitama-Abuja, a multi-billion
naira mansionette at Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama, Abuja and another
multi-billion naira mansion at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Others include a multi-billion naira mansionette at Plot 23 Olusegun Aina
Street, Parkview, Lagos and a multi-
billion naira 25 storey building at Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island,
Lagos.
“As earlier promised, more details of assets and graft-related funds
illegally and fraudulently siphoned from Akwa Ibom State treasury and
laundered to foreign destinations are in the offing. As usual, we will do the
needful.
An EFCC source said senior officials of the commission held discussions
with Mr. Ekpenyong on the petition on Tuesday.
“He also adopted the petition he forwarded to the commission and
provided additional details about the alleged stealing of funds by the
former governor,” the source said.
The source noted that many of those who have sent petitions to the
commission against the former governor, now senator, have already been
invited to adopt their document.
He confirmed that very soon the commission would invite the former
governor for questioning.
Allegations, complete falsehood
Mr. Akpabio could not be reached for this story. Messrs Umoren and
Isobara could not also be reached for comments.
But the commissioner of information during the administration of Mr.
Akpabio, Aniekan Umana, described the contents of the petition by Mr.
Ekpenyong as falsehood taken too far.
He said the petition betrays a lack of understanding of the workings of
government.
“Every sum withdrawn from a government account is tied to a subhead and
there must be a budgetary provision. To attribute fraud to withdrawals
which had the full sanction of Government and was accommodated in the
budget is strange, mischievous and untenable. More so, when one
understands that there are checks and balances which guide all aspects of
government financial administration,” he said.
He also said the allegation that the State Government spent N50 billion on
the March General Elections falls flat on its face based on his explanations
of the workings of government as regards financial transactions.
“There was no such provision in the budget of this year and such an
amount could not have been paid as an extra-budgetary expenditure and
yet salaries and other commitments were met. We challenge the petitioners
to provide proof to support this wild allegation. Who was it paid to? How
was it paid? Where was it paid? And when was it paid?
“Senator Akpabio does not own a 25-storey building in Victoria Island or in
any part of the world, as alleged by the petitioner. It is also a patent
falsehood that the house at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi belongs to Senator
Akpabio.
It is a rented building which ownership can be verified from Lagos State
Lands Registry.
“Senator Akpabio does not own the properties mentioned in the petition to
belong to him. You can verify the ownership of the properties (5 Okokosi
Close, Maitama and Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama) from the land
registry in Abuja,” he said.
He also denied the state received over N2 trillion as oil allocation.
“Please do note that the idea that the Akwa Ibom State Government
received over N2.5 trillion in the eight years of the Akpabio administration
is an outrageous lie. What this suggests is that the State Government
received an average of N26 billion monthly for the period. What a lie! From
published accounts of disbursement from the Federation Accounts, Akwa
Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the
period.
Note that in some months like the April and May, 2015, Akwa Ibom State
received about N8 billion only.”
Credit : 234forum

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