In from Timothy Enietan-Matthews (Nation’s capital) . . .
The Akwa Ibom State government has risen in stout defence of the embattled former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, describing the petition written to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) against him as originating from somebody who does not know the workings of government.
This is coming after Operatives of the EFCC grilled the Senate Minority Leader for over seven hours yesterday.
Akpabio, who is facing interrogation over alleged fraud estimated at N108 billion, has claimed he has nothing to hide, describing the allegation as tissues of lies.
The state’s Commissioner of Information, Mr. Aniekan Umanah Umanah said: “Every sum withdrawn from a government account is tied to a subhead and there must be a budgetary provision. To attribute fraud to withdrawals, which had the full sanction of government and was accommodated in the budget, is strange, mischievous and untenable. More so, when one understands that there are checks and balances which guide all aspects of government financial administration.”
According to him, the allegation that the state government spent N50 billion on the March general elections falls flat based on his explanation of the workings of government on financial transactions.
“There was no such provision in the budget of this year and such an amount could not have been paid as an extra-budgetary expenditure and yet salaries and other commitments were met. We challenge the petitioners to provide proof to support this wild allegation. Who was it paid to? How was it paid? Where was it paid? And when was it paid,” the commissioner asked.
Continuing, Umanah said: “Senator Akpabio does not own a 25-storey building in Victoria Island or in any part of the world, as alleged by the petitioner. It is also patent falsehood that the house at 22 Probyn Road, Ikoyi belongs to Senator Akpabio.
“It is a rented building which ownership can be verified from the Lagos State Lands Registry.
“Senator Akpabio does not own the properties mentioned in the petition to belong to him. You can verify the ownership of the properties (5 Okokosi Close, Maitama and Plot 28 Colorado Close, Maitama) from the land registry in Abuja,” he said.
The Akwa Ibom State spokesman also denied that the state received over N2 trillion as oil allocation.
“Please do note that the idea that the Akwa Ibom State government received over N2.5 trillion in the eight years of the Akpabio administration is an outrageous lie.
“What this suggests is that the state government received an average of N26 billion monthly for the period. What a lie! From published accounts of disbursement from the Federation Account, Akwa Ibom State never received up to N26 billion in any month throughout the period”.
However, there were indications that some officials of Akwa Ibom State Government and a few banks allegedly used for the transactions might have been invited by the anti-graft agency in connection with the investigation.
A source in EFCC said: “Akpabio came back for the continuation of interaction with EFCC team on the allegations against him. We did not detain him on Friday in line with our respect for his fundamental rights.
“Having been served with a copy of the petition, he spent about four hours responding to the allegations in writing. He wrote his statement under caution.
“We asked him a few questions on some grey areas in his statement before he left. The investigation of the case is ongoing.”
The source further stated that “We are going to interrogate some officials of Akwa Ibom State Government and a few banks.
“Some of these officials were named in the petition by a lawyer-activist, Mr. Leo Ekpenyong.
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