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EFCC Begins Probe Of Ex-governor Akpabio Over Alleged N108.1bn Fraud

 The Economic and Financial Crimes and 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.”

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