The insinuations from some quarters that the governor had a hand in the imprisonment of Senator Bassey Akpan, also known as OBA, the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party in the state, have been criticized as unfair and “nonsensical” by Rev. Richard Peters, the governor's special assistant on media for Akwa Ibom State.
Remember that Senator Akpan was found guilty by Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court in Uyo of six counts involving graft and money laundering. The charges were brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC.
There is widespread speculation in the state that Governor Emmanuel influenced the verdict against the troubled Senator in order to support Pastor Umo Eno, the governorship candidate for his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In contrast, Peters questioned how Emmanuel could suddenly begin collaborating with Leo Ekpenyong, who had petitioned the EFCC on behalf of Senator Akpan and had recently accused the governor of buying Justice Ekaette Obot to convict Barr Inibehe Effiong. Peters emphasized that the governor is not even on good terms with the petitioner.
According to him, the case was decided on the obvious presumption that OBA was guilty of all charges, and as a result, the verdict should not be given any political interpretations.
“It has been noted that since the Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial District was found guilty by the Federal High Court, Uyo, presided over by Justice Agatha Okeke, on Thursday, December 1, 2022, informed and uninformed members of the public have taken to social media, print media, and electronic media to suggest that Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is to blame for Obong Bassey Albert's troubles.
“As pitiful as the Senator's conviction is to every well-intentioned Akwa Ibom citizen, it is important to draw attention to the harm that this untruth, fueled by hatred, has done to the Governor's reputation and his good intentions for the state and its residents.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began looking into the circumstances that led to the formal charges against OBA in May 2010. Mr. Udom Emmanuel was not present at that time in Akwa Ibom State's government corridors.
The alleged offenses are said to have been committed between May 2010, December 2012, November 2013, March 2014, and September 2014. This information may be of interest to the general public. OBA has been a Commissioner for seven years, according to his statement to the EFCC. He served as the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee (IMDLCC) for the Akwa Ibom State during that time, which the EFCC referred to in the majority of the charges.
“On June 8, 2015, 10 days after Mr. Udom Emmanuel took office as governor, Barr. Leo Ekpenyong of Leo Ekpenyong & Co., NNPC Estate Office Complex, Garki, Abuja, filed a petition with the chairman of the EFCC accusing Gov. Godswill Akpabio of a number of crimes, including (a) a lack of accountability and transparency (b) budgetary indiscipline for eight years (C) Di Using public funds for himself and his family (e) Using public funds for pointless and self-serving political campaigns, etc.
“The petition was copied to President Buhari and Mr. Solomon Arase, the previous Inspector General of Police. The former governor was cleared of charges after the investigation was finished. Instead, OBA was hit with a fourteen-count accusation.
“Surprisingly, Senator Bassey Albert was formally charged at the Criminal Division of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, which was not the Jurisdiction of the commission of the alleged crimes on July 9, 2018, in Suit No. ID/7778C/2018. Charged along with the Senator was one Olajide Jones Omokore, a contractor who had business dealings with the state when Mr. Albert was the Commissioner for Finance under then Gov. Godswill Akpabio.
“The case was unresolved for years until it was decided under normal circumstances on December 1st.
“The question to ask is, in all the above-listed charges and dates/years referenced in the charges, where is Governor Udom Emmanuel? How was Gov. Udom involved in these events either directly or indirectly? It is pertinent to observe that people can choose to destroy a good man for whatever gains they hope or intend to make.”