By Omeiza Ajayi
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has dismissed a news report in an online media (not Vanguard) that he was on Wednesday detained and questioned by operatives of the Economic and Financial. Fumes Commission EFCC after an attempt to bribe its chairman with $350,000.
Akpabio in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Anietie Ekong on Saturday in Abuja said he was the one who sought an audience with the anti-graft agency boss on issues bordering on the transfer of funds belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC in respect of the 3% statutory remittances from Oil and Gas Companies in the custody of the EFCC.
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON has been drawn to a defamatory article written by SAHARA REPORTERS titled: ‘How EFCC detained Godswill Akpabio for two hours after attempting to bribe Agency Chairman with $350,000.’
“For the information of the general public, the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio has no reason to offer bribe to the new Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa and never did.
“On Wednesday, April 14, 2021 the Honourable Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio through a telephone call sought audience with the new Chairman of the EFCC to discuss the transfer of funds belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in respect of the 3% statutory remittances from Oil and Gas Companies in the custody of the EFCC. President Muhammadu Buhari had since December 2020 approved the transfer of monies earlier paid by International Oil Companies into the CBN/EFCC account now to be transferred to the CBN/NDDC account”, the statement explained.
Akpabio said the EFCC Chairman granted the request for 10am but due to other exigencies, he (Akpabio) requested for a change of time to 11:30am whereupon the Chairman amended the request to 12noon due to his busy schedule.
“The two Senior Officials met and had a robust discussion and the Honourable Minister received very intelligent and useful input from the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa on the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
“However, the discussion was inconclusive since the Minister needed to attend a security meeting with select South-South/South-East leaders and Governors in the Office of the National Security Adviser then slated for 1.30pm of the same day. Both Officials resolved to reconvene same day by 5.00pm to conclude their interactions. The Honourable Minister returned to the office of the EFCC Chairman at about 5.45pm and departed thereafter at about 6.20pm after very resourceful deliberations.
“There was no issue of detention and Senator Akpabio could not have carried $350,000 into the office of the Chairman of the EFCC as he went there without a bag or a container. The EFCC Chairman Bawa gave useful and intelligent advice on the methodology of achieving success in the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC. The Honourable Minister sought the cooperation of the EFCC to actualize recoveries of further 3% levies due to the Commission still being owed by some Oil and Gas Companies”, the statement added.
Akpabio also denounced rumours that he had bribed the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to the tune of $5million in order to get Mr. Effiong Akwa elevated to the position of the Interim Administrator of the NDDC.
Part of the statement reads; “The meeting between the duo was not arranged by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN and for the umpteenth time, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs did not bribe the Honourable Attorney-General with $5 million as alleged to get Mr. Effiong Akwa elevated to the position of the Interim Administrator of the NDDC. It could be recalled that the appointment of Mr. Effiong Akwa was duly made by Mr. President in obedience to an ex parte order of court in suit number ABJ/CS/616/2020, before the Federal High Court, Abuja which restrained named Members of the Interim Management of the NDDC from carrying out their duties until the application for an order of Mandamus was argued and disposed off.
“In that suit, the Court had ordered that the headship of the NDDC should be handed over to the most Senior Director pending the conclusion of the suit. The most Senior Director at that time happened to be Mr. Effiong Akwa, who, months earlier had replaced the late Executive Director of Finance and Administration, Chief Bassey Etang who passed on in May 2020 after a brief illness, and the originators of the suit did not replace the late Chief Etang with Mr. Akwa as a party in the suit hence his emergence as the Interim Administrator. How then does the name of the respected Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN come into the appointment of the Interim Administrator that was clearly a child of circumstance?
“The above explanation is to disabuse the minds of the general public against the falsehood peddled by the authors of the false and malicious publications. The general public is hereby advised to discountenance the said publication as it is propelled by persons whose stock-in-trade is politics of blackmail now occasioned by the very serious progress made in respect of the on-going Forensic Audit of the NDDC”.