There are four vital reasons why former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio was summoned by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission on Friday night.
A close source told our correspondent that one of the reasons was that the current senate minority leader was to answer question on alleged conversion of N108.1 billion belonging to Akwa Ibom State during his tenure as governor.
A petition was written by an Abuja based lawyer Leo Ekpenyong who alleged that Akpabio, fraudulently converted the money. The former governor was subsequently summoned by EFCC to appear on August 27, 2015 but he failed to do so.
In a way to play safe, Akpabio joined some other senators to write letter to the Senate leadership disassociating himself and other PDP members in the Senate from supporting the probe of Ibrahim Lamorde.
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the investigation of the EFCC boss Lamorde over unremitted fund recently, which of course generated public and legislative debate.
“So Akpabio thought that the case could be swept under the carpet since he has given his support to Larmode but things do not work that way because of some incriminating statements made by Akpabio aides when EFCC interrogated them,” the source disclosed.
Earlier EFCC had interrogated top officials of Akpabio’s administration, including the former Finance Commissioner who had said some incriminating statements against the former governor.
Most of the officials who served under Akpabio who were invited by the EFCC to state what they knew about the diversion of funds of the state, made incriminating remarks against the former governor.
It was learnt that the EFCC moved against him apparently because of his initial refusal to honour its invitation and the statements made by officials of his administration, claiming that it was the governor who approved whatever expenditure they incurred while in office and that they had no reason to disobey him.
Another reason was that the government during Akpabio tenure was alleged to have spent N50 billion on the March General Elections and would need to clarify himself.
Another reason was that the former governor was alleged to own a house in Lagos a 25-storey building in Victoria Island and another building on 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi.
The petition also stated that the Akwa Ibom State Government under Akpabio received N2 trillion as oil allocation for eight years and that it could not favourably account for the spending.
However, the former governor denied all the allegations against him through his former Information Commissioner, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, who is now the current Commissioner for Information in Umana described the contents of the petition by Mr. Ekpenyong as falsehood taken too far.
He said the petition betrayed a lack of understanding of the workings of government.
Umanah said:“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 claimed that 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 Akwa Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the period,” Umanah said.