By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- CHAIRMAN, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom North East, Thursday described as laughable and malicious suit filed against him by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation on behalf of the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Mr. Ofem Obono-Obla.
Senator Bassey Albert Akpan who described the action a political ploy to distract him, said that it was also designed to tarnish his image and smear his name in midst of the current political activities, adding that the detractors are out to mislead the courts and Nigerians.
Speaking with Journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senator Akpan explained that the panel had approached the Federal High Court before on the same matter and lost.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had on Wednesday filed fresh criminal charges against Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, and the Senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East, Chief Albert Akpan, following alleged failure to declare their assets.
In the two sets of charges it lodged before Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, the Federal Government alleged that the two lawmakers refused to declare their assets in a manner prescribed by Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property. Both Ekweremadu and Akpan were slammed with two-count criminal allegations in separate charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/62/2018 and FHC/ABJ/CR/88/2018, which were okayed by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
Senator Akpan who described the fresh suit against him by the panel headed by Barrister Obono- Obla as malicious, stressed that the fresh allegations were simply face-saving measures as a result of the libel suit he instituted against the panel which was tilting in his favour at the Justice Adeniyi of the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
The Senator who noted that the move was an exercise in futility, said that those property were being declared every four years.
He said, “My attention has been drawn to the malicious and trump-up charges filled against me by the special presidential investigation panel for the recovery of public property SPIP over my alleged refusal and neglect to declare assets. While I have confidence in our Judiciary as the last hope of the common man like me to decide the matter on its merit, let me assure my supporters and the general public that this is another political ploy by detractors aimed at misleading the Courts and Nigerians to dent my name in the face of the current political season.
“To set the records straight, the same panel had initially filed an application ex-parte with suit no. /FHC/ABJ/CS/378/18 to forfeit my properties before Justice Dimgba of the Federal High and abandoned same after my Lawyers filed a Counter Affidavit deposing to the true state of facts that the properties sought to be forfeited were duly declared in June 2015, when I assumed office as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, only to file this malicious and non/ existing charges before Honourable Justice Tsoho of the same Federal High Court as a face- saving measure/ defence to my Libel and defamation of character suit(CV/2157/18) against the Panel and its Chairman, Barrister Ojoi Obono- Obla, which case is currently before Honourable Justice Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria( As Amended) mandates every Public Officer to declare his or her assets once within a period of four years, which I have duly complied wins a Law abiding Citizen since 2007 when I became a public officer and the SPIP had applied and obtained these Assets Declaration forms from the Code of Conduct Bureau for the records.
“Let me assure you that I shall never be distracted by these desperate and panic measures aimed at intimidating and coercing me, but shall continue to remain focus’ resolute and committed to the Divine project of serving our people.”
It would be recalled that Senator Akpan got a return ticket to contest for Senate in 2019 general election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the just concluded primaries.