The recent invitation of Senator Godswill Akpabio, former Minister in the Ministry of Niger Delta by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) to answer questions pertaining to Corruption charges may have begun to affect his electoral chances for the Presidency of the Senate.
Our investigations reveal most of the Senators-elect are already looking away from his candidature because of what one of them who craved anonymity described as “too many weighty allegations” against him.
The EFCC had last week summoned Akpabio to appear before it on March 29, 2023 but the former Minister through his lawyers wrote back pleading for more time to be able to be able to attent to his health abroad.
“We write to convey our client’s inability to honour the scheduled visit to your office on the 29th day of March 2022 due to ill health, and, already arranged medical appointments overseas.
“As mentioned in our last letter to you dated February 10, 2023, our client is undergoing treatment for pneumonia and cardiac arrhythmia, and, has recently been advised to seek further attention abroad.
“It is in the light of the above, that we respectfully request that our client’s appointment with you be rescheduled to a date convenient to your officers. preferably after the forthcoming Easter and Ramadan”.
The above response from Akpabio’s legal team is being interpreted by many to mean that the former Minister may have tactically disappeared from the political scene to avoid arrest.
” With this development, Senator Akpabio May have unwittingly dropped out of the race because of fear of arrest as the EFCC is on the lookout for him and by disappearing from the scene, his campaign is already in jeopardy”, a Senator-elect from the South-South said.
The situation is said to have been brought to the attention of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in order for him to be circumspect of the candidate to be supported for the Senate Presidency.
According to a Public Affairs commentator, Joe Mesele, “The President-elect must be very careful in the area of selecting who to back for any of these positions, especially those with heavy corruption baggages on their neck. In this particular case of Akpabio, he should be made to exonerate himself of these allegations before throwing his hat in the ring and I doubt if there’s enough time for that before the 10th Senate resumes activities”.
In 2020, the EFCC said it was investigating corruption allegations against Godswill Akpabio as a minister of Niger Delta Affairs.
This was contained in a response letter dated August 14 to Foundation for True Freedom and Good Governance, a civil society group.
The EFCC, in a response letter by Adebayo Adeniyi, head of the economic governance section at the EFCC, said “We write to acknowledge the receipt of your petition dated August 3, 2020 in respect of the above subject and to inform you that investigation into the case has commenced.”
There had been allegations of N40 billion fraud perpetrated in the NDDC, a ministry which was headed by Akpabio for three years.
The Senate and the House of Representatives in 2020 resolved to probe the alleged N40 billion financial recklessness of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC in the previous three months.
Also, there were allegations of over N86 billion contract scam involving the senator-elect and the former Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, which the EFCC has been looking into.
The anti-graft agency had also in the past arrested Akpabio over alleged theft of N108.1billion of Akwa Ibom funds.