A former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and incumbent Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, was on Friday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mr. Akpabio was reportedly taken in by EFCC operatives at about 5.20 pm.
He was said to have been accompanied a few aides and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Ricky Tarfa.
An aide to the former governor, who cannot be named because he is not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed that Akpabio is currently being interrogated by top officials of the EFCC.
An EFCC source confirmed the development.
“He was brought in at about 5.20 pm accompanied by a few aides and Mr. Rickey Tarfa,” the source said.
“It is not yet known whether he will be allowed to go this night. It depends on how the interrogation goes.”
The spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, did not answer or return calls seeking comment for this story.
The EFCC had begun investigation into alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds by the former governor in June.
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.
Severala other indigenes of the state who are demanding 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 and Rivers States 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 alleged 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.