From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has dismissed with wave of hand, the speculation that he offered the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa, a bribe of $350,000.
Reacting to the speculations, the Chief Press Secretary to the Minister, Anietie Ekong, in a statement he issued equally claimed the claims that he was even invited by the the anti-corruprtion agency.
“The attention of Senator Akpabio, has been drawn to a defamatory article 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 Senator Akpabio has no reason to offer bribe to the new Chairman of the EFCC and never did,” the statement read.
While putting read ord straight of what transpired, he noted in the statement that; “On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Senator 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 per cent 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 Distinguished Chairman granted the request for 10.00am but due to other exigencies, the Minister 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 Minister received very intelligent and useful input from the EFCC boss 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 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 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 per cent levies due to the Commission still owed by some Oil and Gas Companies,” he insisted in the statement.
While arguing further, he maintained fhat; “the meeting between the duo was not arranged by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN and for the umpteenth time, the Minister did not bribe the Attorney-General with $5 million as alleged, to get Effiong Akwa elevated to the position of the Interim Administrator of the NDDC.
“It could be recalled that the appointment of Akwa was duly made by Mr. President in obedience to an exparte 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 Effiong Akwa, who, months earlier had replaced the late Executive Director of Finance and Administration, 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 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, 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. 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,” the statement read.