Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Thursday, asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to come clear and tell Nigerians the outcome of its corruption investigation involving former Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and ex-governor of oil-rich Akwa Ibom, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, expressed disappointment that despite the multiple allegations of heists of public money hanging around Akpabio, the ruling All Progressives Congress found him fit as its preferred choice for the number three position of Senate President ahead of the inauguration of the 10th National Assembly in June.
The group recalled that weeks ago, the EFCC asked Akpabio to turn himself in over corruption investigation but has suddenly gone mute since the politicking for the national positions of the 10th Assembly began.
The EFCC asked Akpabio to “personally report” to the anti-graft agency on May 9. This was after the Senator shunned previous summons by the anti-graft agency in March and April.
The EFCC had begun a probe into the alleged theft of N108.1 billion of Akwa Ibom State funds. The EFCC had detained Akpabio over the alleged fraud but later freed him. However, the anti-graft commission reopened Akpabio’s file as governor and minister weeks ago, invited him but kept mum despite that the Senate President hopeful did not honour the invitation by the anti-graft commission.
Similarly, Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Wednesday set up a seven-member ad-hoc committee to probe the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) under Akpabio for embarking on expenditure amounting to N1.4 trillion without appropriation, a blatant constitutional breach by the NDDC.
Lawan said the term of reference of the ad hoc committee was to investigate the financial activities of NDDC on the 2021 and 2022 budget estimates.
The committee, chaired by Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf (APC, Taraba), is to submit its report to the plenary in one week. Other members of the committee include: Seriake Dickson, Uche Ekwunife, Abdullahi Yahaya, Saidu Alkali, Adetunmbi Olubumi and Sadiq Sulaiman.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “It is very unthinkable that the APC in endorsing Senator Akpabio as its preferred choice for Senate President, it has directly undermined the Anti-corruption with its nomination of Senator Godswill Akpabio for the Senate President seat of the 10th National Assembly. We are not saying that Akpabio is guilty as charged, but is there no honour any longer in APC so much so that it has unwittingly stopped EFCC from doubting its statutory duty of investigation. Are there no Senators-Elect with pristine records free of corruption allegations from the South-South or the South-East to be considered for the position of the number three man?
“We demand from EFCC provide a straightforward response on the many corruption cases against Akpabio and why the EFCC has not found it imperative to tell the President-elect, Bola Tinubu to distance himself from Akpabio who is wanted for interrogation over corruption cases. Has EFCC granted pardon to Akpabio because Tinubu has handpicked him as Senate President even with multiple allegations of heists of public money? This is a bad precedence for the incoming government.”
May 11, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.