I’ve nothing to hide, suspect insists
Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, yesterday, grilled former Governor Godswill Akpabio for over seven hours, and confronted him with evidence of alleged financial impropriety while he held sway in Akwa Ibom State.
The interrogation of Akpabio by the agency, it was learnt, made it possible for him to come face-to- face with what was described as major financial transactions, on the second day with operatives, carried out by his administration, consequent upon which he was asked to provide explanation..
The transactions, estimated at N108 billion, according to EFCC sources, were, however, said to have been stoutly defended by Akpabio, who claimed he had the power as governor to authorize such monumental expenditure “in the interest of the state and its people”.
The anti-graft agency, acting on petitions filed against Akpabio and his administration, had, on Friday, summoned the former governor and grilled him. Sources claimed that evidence extracted from the accounts staff in Uyo Government House as well as ministries, agencies and departments was used to confront the Senate Minority Leader yesterday.
One of the sources told Sunday Vanguard that the former governor was still being grilled by the EFCC operatives as at 6pm after he arrived the headquarters around 11:45am.
“The former governor is still with our operatives, who are taking him up on a number of financial transactions that required clarifications from him and his officials”, the source added.
“We really need to know how and why certain transactions were carried out and if such huge withdrawals in certain cases, based on evidence before us, complied with laid down financial regulations or the said amount of money was wrongly spent.”
But the former governor denied any wrongdoing, while claiming that the allegations were tissues of lies.
Akpabio, who spoke through Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, said those accusing him of impropriety did not know 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Umanah said:”Every sum withdrawn from a government account is tied to a subhead and there must be a budgetary provision.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 the allegation that the state government spent N50 billion on the March general elections falls flat based on his explanation of the workings of government on 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,”the commissioner said.
“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 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 the 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 that 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 Account, Akwa Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the period”.