An Abuja-based lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong, has threatened to take legal action against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, if it fails to investigate a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio.
Mr. Ekpenyong, who said he has sent several petitions to the commission without any action taken on them, vowed to use every legal instrument available to ensure that Mr. Akpabio is probed.
He has severally accused the former governor of financial recklessness and corruption while in office.
In a four-page petition dated June 8, which was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari and sent to PREMIUM TIMES, the legal practitioner called for an immediate investigation and prosecution of Mr. Akpabio.
He said Mr. Akpabio became governor when Akwa Ibom led in revenue accruals among the 36 states of the Federation.
“The former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had confirmed to the whole world that our state’s revenue surpassed the entire yearly budgets of some African nations,” Mr. Ekpenyong wrote.
“She went on to confirm that the so much hyped ‘uncommon transformation’ in the state does not constitute 10 percent of what Akpabio got from the federation account alone.”
He argued that Mr. Akpabio never debunked the fact that he received the largest chunk of revenue from the Federation Accounts, adding that over N3 trillion accrued to the state in eight years.
Mr. Ekpenyong insisted that what the former governor alone received in eight years was five times higher than what Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo states got during the same period.
He, therefore, called on the EFCC to take a second look at the “uncommon transformation” of Mr. Akpabio and judge if the state had a commensurate return for the funds that came to its coffers.
Mr. Ekpenyong listed some of the sins of the former governor to include lack of accountability, fiscal irresponsibility, diversion of local government funds, and acquisition of personal assets using state funds and using state funds to stoke political conflicts.
He said the Akpabio administration rarely held State Executive Council meetings, adding that for eight years, the former governor ran the government as his personal estate.
The legal practitioner said that revenue accruals, spending and the debt profile of the state have remained top secret that are only known to Mr. Akpabio.
He dismissed the story that 80 percent of the state’s budget went into capital spending, saying Mr. Akpabio overpriced almost every project he embarked upon.
Mr. Ekpenyong said the former governor deducted millions of naira from salaries of local council staff across the state under an imaginary pension scheme and bribed council chairmen with N100 million when they questioned the fake pension scheme.
He accused Mr. Akpabio of using Nestoil as a surrogate firm to acquire 10 percent equity in Julius Berger Nigerian Plc while also building a 25 storey complex in Victoria Island, Lagos, using the oil firm as a front.
Before he became governor, he said Mr. Akpabio had a three-bedroom bungalow valued at N1.5million in his home town in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area.
But during his eight-year reign, he said the governor built a N7.5billion personal estate and acquired properties across the country as well as in Ghana, St. Kitts and Nevis Island, United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
During his tenure, Mr. Ekpenyong said Mr. Akpabio not only stole Akwa Ibom State funds, but also allowed his siblings to loot the state.
For instance, he said Emem Akpabio, who was a middle-level staff of Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, had within eight years turned into a multi-billionaire owning a N10.5 billion housing estate in Ukana.
He listed other billionaire Akpabios who hitherto had no meaningful jobs to include Nsentip and Prince, adding that even the governor’s former personal assistant, Emmanuel Inyangetor, is now a multi-billionaire.
Mr. Ekpenyong said it was the former governor who deployed Akwa Ibom State funds to sponsor the removal of former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako.
He also accused Mr. Akpabio of bankrolling the failed impeachment plots against former governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Almakura.
According to the lawyer, it was Mr. Akpabio who sponsored the removal of the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bamanga Tukur, from office.
“He was seen as ‘Father Christmas’ in the PDP circle and so, whenever it was time to bring money, ‘our money-miss-road’ governor was always on hand to help.
“Please take notice that this petition is one in a series of several other earlier petitions sent to the commission without any consequential appropriate action.
We will not hesitate to take legal action to compel the commission to unravel and recover monies misappropriated by the corrupt Akpabio-led administration in line with Mr. President’s anti-corruption agenda.”
In a reaction, the former Chief Press Secretary to the former governor, Anietie Ukpe, said Mr. Ekpenyong has an unstable character.
“I don’t know which Barrister Leo you are talking about because there was somebody who was involved in blackmail with the name of Mr. Leo. I don’t know if it is the same person you are talking about but if he is the one, then he is a very unstable character.
“That is the same person who was running around Barrister Andem Andem. He is a bundle of lies. How can anybody say that it was Akpabio that sponsored the removal of Amaechi when there was a functional system in that state?”
Mr. Ukpe, argued that it would not have been possible for a governor from another state to dictate to assembly members from another state to impeach their governor.
“It doesn’t make any sense except that it is a product of ignorance and mischief,” he said.