The fight against corruption has hit the opposition Peoples Democratic Party yet again after one of its senators, Bassey Akpan, was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr. Akpan, a former commissioner in Akwa Ibom, is the third PDP senator to land in the dragnet of the EFCC this year after Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta state) and Jonah Jang (Plateau State).
The anti-graft agency has alleged that Bassey received vehicles worth N303 million from Babajide Omokore, an oil magnate who is under trial for alleged fraud.
Akpan was said to have given contracts worth billions of naira to Omokore, who allegedly gave him the vehicles as kickback.
The report quoted an EFCC official as saying: “We have been interrogating Senator Bassey in the last 12 hours on the allegations against him. One of the allegations against him is how N303 million worth of vehicles were given out as gifts by the owner of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited between July 30, 2010 and January 8, 2014.”
A fact-sheet from the EFCC said: “The Senator as Commissioner for Finance was also the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee.
“About N30billion hit the account managed by the committee during the period. The fund came from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and statutory allocations.
“Following allegation of massive wiring of the cash into private accounts, the EFCC decided to invite Sen. Bassey to give account. This agency is looking into allegation of money laundering against Bassey.
“Detectives have uncovered how contracts worth N618million to two companies namely Bay Atlantic Energy Services Limited and Sahel Energy/Power between 2010 and 2014 were awarded. The companies belong to the owner of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited Chief Jide Omokore
“At about the same period, vehicles worth N303million were given out as gifts to Bassey by the owner of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited especially between July 30, 2010 and January 8, 2014.
“From investigation by detectives, there is a correlation between the transactions and the gifts. The Akwa Ibom State Government has refused to make relevant documents available to the EFCC.”
However, Akpan has denied receiving kickbacks from Omokore, insisting that the businessman is his friend.
“The vehicles are gifts from Omokore on the need to ensure my personal safety. I have known him for 19 years. They were also contributions to my governorship campaign in 2014,” Akpan said.
Akpan’s arrest wil undoubtedly raise concerns that the fight against corruption has been lopsided, seeing as opposition figures have been largely targeted.
The accusation against government is further strengthened by the decision of the EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, to appear on a television programme wearing an emblem of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 campaign.