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EFCC Investigates Akpabio for Alleged N1.4b Bank Gift

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EFCC Investigates Akpabio for Alleged N1.4b Bank Gift

By Punch

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun a fresh probe of a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Godswill Akpabio, over allegations that he gave a gift of N1.4bn to a bank for unknown reasons, Punch is reporting.

The EFCC, it was learnt, had written to the bank to explain why the governor allegedly gave it such a gift.

However, it was learnt that the Akwa Ibom State Government had dragged the commission before the court, challenging its right to investigate state affairs.

A detective at the commission said, “Among several allegations that are already in the public domain, the commission has made some progress in investigating the circumstances in which Apkabio, in 2013, paid N566, 883,728.66; N441,808,081.90; and N392, 631,943.37 as gifts to a new generation bank.”

It was learnt that the state government had ignored seven requests from the EFCC, asking for the release of officials of the government for interrogation as part of the ongoing investigation into the activities of Akpabio, who is now the Senate Minority Leader.

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The source added, “On March 7, 2017, the commission wrote to the Secretary to the State Government, asking for the release of Mr Effiong Efiakedoho, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Special Duties, to appear before the EFCC on March 13.

“He was summoned specifically in respect of matters relating to a hotel, Four Point by Sheraton Hotel, Raffia City Plaza, A 342 Highway. There was no response.

“On May 8, 2017, a letter, requesting the Accountant General of the state to appear at the EFCC on May 18, was also ignored.

“The Accountant General was specifically summoned in respect of an aspect of the investigation relating to a company, Sindeng Nigeria Limited.

“The Commissioner for Works was also invited through a letter of May 19, 2017 and asked to report to the commission’s zonal office in Port Harcourt with respect to a road construction contract awarded to Nigturks Civil Technologies Limited. He too failed to honour the invitation.

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“A May 26, 2017 letter to the Secretary to the State Government to release the Accountant General of the state for interrogation on June 5, on the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, was also ignored.”

It was learnt that the EFCC, in two separate letters dated June 7, 2017, invited all the aforementioned persons but they failed to show up.

The source told our correspondent that instead of releasing its officials, the Akwa Ibom State Government, through a letter, referenced HAG/MISC/VOL.XV1/164, dated June 28, 2017 and signed by the Attorney General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, stated that it was challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate states.

Nwoko, therefore, asked the commission to wait till all legal hurdles were crossed before taking action.

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A detective said if the matter was allowed to drag, it could affect the case.

Alleged N108bn fraud: EFCC seizes Akpabio’s wife’s school

It was learnt that banks had also failed to provide documents to the EFCC on transactions linked to Akpabio, who has been accused of N108bn fraud during his tenure between 2007 and 2015.

When contacted, Akpabio’s media aide, Mr. Anietie Ekong, said his boss would not want to take issue with anybody since the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State had clarified the issue.

“We are aware of the issue because someone else called earlier to confirm the allegation. The Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State has responded to the matter and we are not ready to take issue with anybody,” he said.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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ECOWAS Court Restrains Nigeria From Imposing Sanctions On Twitter

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ECOWAS Court

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice in Abuja has restrained the federal government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting or prosecuting Twitter.

It also restricted the government from carrying out such actions against any other social media service provider, as well as media houses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit challenging the government’s suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

The court gave the restraining order following the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.

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In the suit, the applicants argued that the suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government was illegal

The federal government on June 4 said it has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria as its operation threatened national security.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.

The statement cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

According to the statement, the Minister said the federal government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.

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The suspension came a few days after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official account.

The tweet had referenced the Nigerian civil war as the President threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.

It sparked reactions from many Nigerians who interpreted the statement as a threat to commit human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the federal government set up a team to engage with Twitter over the recent suspension of the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.

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The approval was announced in a statement in Abuja today by Mr Mohammed, who will chair the team.

The committee comprises the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment as well as other relevant government agencies.

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Buhari Constitutes Team to Engage Twitter Over Ban

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Twitter Fake news

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A team has been put together by President Muhammadu Buhari to engage Twitter, popular social media platform, over the suspension of its operations in Nigeria.

Twitter was banned in Nigeria by the federal government in early June after it deleted a tweet of President Buhari for violating one of its rules.

The President had posted a series of tweets and in one of them, he threatened to treat those fomenting trouble in the South-East in a language they understand.

He had earlier said those agitating to leave the country were too young to know about the losses the region suffered in the Nigerian Civil War that last 30 months between. Millions of Igbos were said to have died during the war.

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A few days before Mr Buhari’s tweet, the heroes of the war were honoured on May 30 across the region and there was a stay-at-home order given by the Indigenous People of Briafra (IPOB), which was strictly adhered to.

So, when the President posted about dealing with people from the region in a language they understand, it was taken to be a genocide threat, which Twitter frowns at.

The federal government, which was angered by the action of the microblogging website, retaliated by suspending operations of the company in Nigeria, making it impossible for residents of the country to have access to the platform.

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who announced the ban, has been going around to explain the reason for the action.

He had said the indefinite suspension was because the platform to undermine the “corporate existence” of Nigeria. He later said Twitter has approached the government for talks.

On Tuesday, his media aide, Mr Segun Adeyemi, disclosed in a statement that Mr Buhari has “approved the composition” of a team to have discussions with Twitter over the issue.

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He said the team is to be led by Mr Mohammed with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo; as well as other relevant government agencies as members.

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Second Niger Bridge to be Ready 2022—FG Assures

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Second Niger Bridge

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has reaffirmed its determination to complete the construction of the Second Niger Bridge next year.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, gave this assurance at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, June 20, to mark the sixth year anniversary of the present administration.

According to Mr Fashola, the bridge, which will serve as a major link between South-East and South-West Nigeria, will be delivered between the second and third quarter of 2022.

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Records show that construction of the bridge commenced on September 1, 2018, with construction cost put at N336 billion when the contract deal was signed.

The minister, however, made no mention if the construction cost of the facility had changed since the commencement of work.

He said that the project would facilitate the influx of investments to the South East when completed, noting that the construction work had gone beyond the water level, explaining that most bridge works were done underwater.

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“So, what you see currently is the final work. The sub-structure which entailed building cement structures underwater often costs a lot of money.

“We should finish the bridge next year between the second quarter and third quarter,” he affirmed, saying that construction time was lost because of COVID-19.

The bridge is 1.6 kilometres long and furnished with other ancillary infrastructure, including a 10.3 kilometres highway and an inter-change expected to be completed next year.

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The bridge spans from Asaba in Delta State to Ozubulu, Ogbaru, and other communities in Anambra State.

The existing Niger Bridge linking Onitsha and Asaba was completed in December 1965. It was built by the French construction giant, Dumez.

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