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Friday 16 October 2015

Senator Godswill Akpabio Arrives Home After Honouring EFCC Invitation

This is an update on our earlier story: Senator Godswill Akpabio Invited By EFCC Over Petition (DETAILS)
Senator Godwill Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State has honoured an invitation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over a petition written against him by one Leo Ekpenyong.
According to an aide of the Senator, who spoke to The Trent, Akpabio honoured the invitation of the EFCC around 5.20 pm, Friday, October 16, 2015. He was accompanied to the Abuja Headquarters of the EFCC by a team of aides and his lawyer, Ricky Tarfa, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.
“He was invited and honoured the invitation,” the aide, who did not wish to be named because he has not been authorised to speak on the matter, told our reporter at about 8pm today.
Akpabio, who is the Senate Minority Leader, represents the Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District in the National Assembly, is responding to a petition dated June 22, 2015 and addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the EFCC. The petitioner, Leo Ekpenyong alleges that Akpabio committed a fraudulently converted N108.1 billion belonging to Akwa Ibom State during his tenure as governor.
Ekpenyong, who is a lawyer, called for the probe of Akpabio over his allegations. The petition and its contents have been circulating in the media since June. Based on this petition, an Abuja High Court in August had placed an injunction “restraining Ekpenyong from publishing or causing to be published any defamatory statement against the Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio”.

Legal counsel to Senator Akpabio, Tarfa, had argued that the reputation of the former governor of Akwa Ibom State has been disparaged and tarnished following series of defamatory statements by Mr. Ekpenyong and unless restrained he would continue to publish such spurious statements which have portrayed Senator Akpabio in bad light before the public.
In the libel suit, which is still before Justice Valentine Ashi of Court 29, Akpabio was asking for damages for libel in the sum of N1 billion and an order compelling Mr. Ekpenyong and others to publish a full apology to Senator Akpabio on the Internet and two major national newspapers.
They are also for an injunction restraining the defendants from further publishing or causing to be published defamatory words against the plaintiff, Senator Akpabio.
Responding to the media on the contents of this petition, commissioner of Infromation for Akwa Ibom State, who also served under Akpabio, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, described the contents of the petition by Mr. Ekpenyong as “falsehood taken too far”. He said the petition betrayed a lack of understanding of the workings of government.
“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,” he said.
At the time of filing this report, Akpabio was still in the EFCC headquarters.
It is unclear if the EFCC would detain the former governor who is a leading member of the opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).


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