The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has began to probe into the alleged fraud of N108.1 billion of Akwa Ibom funds by former Governor Godswill Akpabio.
This comes after a petition was sent to the office of the commission by one Abuja based lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong who called on President Buhari and the EFCC to look into the alleged looting Akwa Ibom state treasury.
According to reporters, Leo Ekpenyong is not the only one seeking probe of the former governor, some state indigines are also demanding for the investigation of the PDP man.
The currently elected Senator, Akpabio was elected in as governor in 2007 when the nation enjoyed robust oil revenue and Akwa Ibom and Rivers led the way as Nigeria’s largest oil-producing states.
Both states had received 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.
By the time Akpabio left office, on May 29, the state received more, excluding other revenues like Ecological Funds, internally generated revenue etc.
Ekpenyong petition which was also forwaded to Mr. Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, he stated that between January and December 2014, Akpabio colluded with two of his top aides to steal a whopping N108.1 billion from the state’s treasury.
He accused the former Government House Permanent Secretary, Etekamba Umoren, and the former Accountant General of the state, Udo Isobara of helping out the current senator.
“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“For example, a whopping N18 billion was withdrawn fraudulently from the state FAAC account with the United Bank for Africa in trenches of N10 million and above by Mr.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.”
Ekpenyong suggested that Mr. Umoren was rewarded with an appointment as Government House chief of staff and now secretary to the state government for helping to divert funds.
He said that over N50 billion of Akwa Ibom funds were wasted for campaigns by the former governor.
“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 went on to list homes and assets bought by the governor through several surrogates. Those he named include 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.
EFCC have already held discussions with Mr. Ekpenyong over the petition and were surprised with the level of detail involved.
EFCC are now schedulled to arrange Akpabio for questioning over the alleged crimes. Meanwhile the commissioner of information during the administration of Mr. Akpabio, Aniekan Umana has described the petition as scribles of a person who fails to understand the he 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 claimed: “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.”
Godswill Akpabio had been having talks with the APC recently with political critics saying that he wants to jump ship despite being one of the pillars of the depleted PDP.