By Harris Emmanuel
UYO—Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has dissociated himself from a publication that he made bribery allegation against the chairman and members of the National Assembly Elections Petition Tribunal in Akwa Ibom State.
A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Anietie Ekong, said: “Senator Akpabio could not have been privy to the allegations made against the judicial officers because as a senior member of the Bar and a party in the matter pending before their lordships, he understands the need to allow the judges decide the cases according to the facts.
“Moreover, Senator Akpabio as Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, cannot be said to be desperate to win a Senate seat but he is only contesting the outcome of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, manipulated results to ensure justice and sustenance of democratic practice in Nigeria.
“Senator Akpabio is shocked by the spurious allegation made by the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko, in a rejoinder to the said article, alleging that he ‘succumbed to blackmail and handsomely paid Barrister Leo Ekpenyong to recapitulate.’
“The fact is that Ekpenyong withdrew the petitions against Senator Akpabio voluntarily, when his clients made a volte face and could not substantiate their claims as contained in Ekpenyong’s affidavit, which he swore to before a court of law as evidence of voluntary withdrawal of those false petitions.
“Moreover, Ekpenyong’s client as mentioned in the stated affidavit is linked to the current Government of Akwa Ibom State and its officials.
“As an elder statesman, a serving minister, a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, a former Minority Leader of the Senate and a former boss to Mr Nwoko, decorum demands that he accords Senator Akpabio some respect. The Attorney General should substantiate his wild allegation or offer an unreserved apology to Senator Akpabio.
“Senator Akpabio is a democrat who believes in the rule of law, and this informed his decision to approach the tribunal after the charade by the Mike Igini-led INEC in Akwa Ibom State.”