Former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and Minority Leader of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has taken desperate measures to cover traces of corruption and misappropriation of state funds during his tenure as the Governor of the Nigerian state with the highest revenues, Akwa Ibom, from 2007 to 2015, several reliable sources in Akwa Ibom State told SaharaReporters.
The sources revealed that as part of this scheme, Mr. Akpabio invaded government offices including the Akwa Ibom State Government Office, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, and the Office of the State Accountant General. He allegedly carted away sensitive official government documents which may have given anti-graft agencies traces of billions of naira belonging to the state that were stolen while Akpabio was the Governor.
On Monday, August 3rd, 2015, Mr. Akpabio, in company of a few reliable allies, stormed the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly in a G-Class Mercedes Benz and another salon vehicle, and ordered the Speaker of the House, Aniekan Akpan, a first-time member who was imposed on the House despite the aspirations of two returning members of the House for the same position amidst protests and controversy and the Clerk of the House, Mandu Umoren, to surrender certain official and classified documents of the House to him.
The duo, both loyalists of the former governor, packed the demanded documents and handed them over to Mr. Akpabio, who remained inside the vehicle throughout the operation. One of the sources who witnessed the clandestine move told SaharaReporters that some members of the House were aggrieved by the development.
Another source within the Akwa Ibom State Government revealed that the former Governor is rattled by a recent publication by Diamond Bank Plc which shows that the state owed the bank 5.8 billion naira obtained during the tenure of Akpabio. The source hinted that the loan was never approved by the State House of Assembly and that Mr. Akpabio was determined to forge official documents of the House to cover the infraction.
On the documents taken from the State Government Office and the Office of the Accountant General, the source further hinted that beyond the loan, that Mr. Akpabio is desperate to cover up for certain huge expenditures and withdrawals which took place during his tenure as governor including the ones contained in several petitions against Mr. Akpabio to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by doctoring and forging government documents to give such expenditures and withdrawals the stamp of legislative and executive approvals.
SaharaReporters exclusively reported on June 23, 2015, that questionable withdrawals were made by three officials within the Akwa Ibom State Government. The trio of Godswill Akpabio, Mr. Etekamba Umoren, and Mr. Udo Isobara all conspired and successfully ransacked the Akwa Ibom State Government Accounts together.
The funds were fraudulently extracted on the basis of fictitious expenditure requests made by Permanent Secretary, Etekamba Umoren, which were authorized by the then Governor Godswill Akpabio, according to a petition by Mr. Leo Ekpenyong, an Abuja based legal practitioner.
The total sum of N40.1 billion of mostly N10m per withdrawal fraudulently withdrawn as cash by the Offices of the Permanent Secretary, Governor's Office and the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Department in 2014 was never spent on any public projects. The total amount of monies stolen by Godswill Akpabio in just one year is equal to the annual budget of some states in Nigeria put together, according to the petition.
Mr. Akpabio, according to several sources is determined to cover up for these withdrawals and other cases of embezzlement of public funds by him.
Meanwhile, Sahara Reporters has obtained a copy of a fresh petition, the third by the same petitioner, Leo Ekpenyong, dated 3rd August, 2015 addressed to the Chairman of EFCC and copied to the president of Nigeria and the Director General of the State Security Services.
In a press statement made available to Sahara Reporters issued on Friday August 7, 2015 lawyers from Akwa Ibom under the auspices of Akwa Ibom State Lawyers Forum. Abuja urged the President not to be distracted by Akpabio and other Senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The statement read in part, “The outpouring of the aspersion by the Godswill Akpabio-led 49 member Senate Caucus of the PDP on President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft crusade is a deliberate attempt to stampede and blackmail the President.
“As ministers in the ‘temple of Justice,’ we condemn Akpabio’s vituperations on the current administration’s war against corruption, which is the bane of our growth as a nation. It is worthy of note that the eight - year reign of Akpabio in Akwa Ibom State without mincing words will go down in history as the "dark era" of massive looting of the State treasury, since its creation in 1987.
Furthermore, Akpabio has series of corruption related petitions against him pending at the EFCC, currently being investigated, which is why he is raising false alarm against Mr. President to evade prosecution and conviction."