The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday confirmed it detained a serving senator for allegedly receiving several vehicles valued at over N1.1 billion from an oil mogul currently standing trial for financial crimes.
The senator, Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom Central) was a commissioner for finance under the Godswill Akpabio administration. He is the current Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas (Upstream).
EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed the arrest, said Mr Akpan was taken into custody on Tuesday after the lawmaker evaded arrest for several months.
Mr Uwujaren did not provide further details on the arrest. Also, he did disclose when the lawmaker would be charged to court or released on bail.
However, a source close to the commission, who does not want his name disclosed, told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Akpan was detained to enable him explain his role in the controversial receipt of the vehicles.
The vehicles, most of which included top range exotic models, were allegedly received from the Chief Executive of Atlantic Energy and Sahel Energy, Jide Omokore, ahead of the 2015 presidential polls.
Mr Omokore, a close ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan, is currently being accused by the presidency of involvement in a $3 billion strategic alliance pipeline contract by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recently accused Mr Omokore of working with ex-petroleum minister Alison-Madueke and ally, Kola Aluko, to defraud the NNPC of the $3 billion and failing to pay the mandatory royalties and taxes to government.
Mr Omokore has since denied the accusations through his lawyer, R. A. Lawal-Rabana, who said his client did not collude with anybody to steal $3 billion as alleged by the presidency.
“As counsel involved in representing Jide Omokore in court, we wish to state that the relationship between Jide Omokore’s company, Atlantic Energy with NNPC/NPDC is well documented as a commercial transaction of which there has been part performance. There is nothing illegal or fraudulent about the transaction,” Mr Lawal-Rabana said.
However, an EFCC report on the matter accused the embattled lawmaker of receiving vehicles worth N303 million from Mr Omokore while he served as the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance.
The report also accused him of receiving the vehicles in his capacity as the Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee responsible for ensuring the completion of government projects through direct labour as a cost saving strategy for the state.
In return, two of Mr Omokore’s firms – Bay Atlantic Energy and Sahel Energy – were said to have benefited from contracts from Mr Akpan’s committee.
“Senator Bassey Akpan received a BMW X5 BP worth N50m; an Infinity QX56BP worth N45m; a Range Rover worth N40m; three Toyota Hiace buses worth N27m; two Toyota Hiace High-roof buses worth N16m, six Toyota Hilux D cabin vehicles worth N42m as well as other vehicles worth N83m,” the anti-graft agency report said.
“He received the vehicles from Omokore while heading a committee which was giving contracts to the same Omokore. He has been invited on several occasions, but he refused to show up. He was supposed to come to the EFCC office on Monday, but he refused,” the report added.
The EFCC said the vehicles, which ranged from Mercedes Benz luxury cars to campaign buses and trucks, were acquired with the proceeds of fraud.
Apart from Mr Akpan, the EFCC report said Adamu Mu’azu, a former PDP chairman, also received vehicles valued at about N504.5 million, including a Mecedez Benz G63, valued at N45 million between May and August 2014.
The report said the current chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, also received vehicles worth N310 million from businessman.
On June 28, 2013, the EFCC said Mr Secondus received a Benz G63 worth N36 million, apart from two Toyota Hilux vehicles worth N14 million he received on April 8, 2014.
“On July 8, 2014, he (Secondus) received 10 Hiace buses worth N90 million, while on November 13, 2014, he received 15 Hiace mid-roof buses worth N120 million. He also received a N50 million Range Rover Biography SUV,” the report added.
However, Mr Secondus has denied the allegations against him.
He recently filed an application in Port Harcourt, which restrained the federal government or any of its agents, including the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, from including his name among the lists of treasury looters, the government says it is releasing in series.