BY OUR CORRESPONDENT |
The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has reacted to what he called a defamatory news report written by an online medium, that he was detained by EFCC for two hours after allegedly attempting to bribe the anti-graft agency chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, with $350,000.
Akpabio said the online report was false in its entirety and was the handiwork of blackmailers, who are hellbent on truncating progress made by his ministry.
The Minister, in a press statement issued on Saturday by his chief press secretary, Anietie Ekong, said he has no reason to offer bribe to the new chairman of the EFCC, Bawa, and never did.
According to the statement, Ekong stated that on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, Akpabio had only, through a telephone call, sought audience with the new chairman of the EFCC to discuss the transfer of funds belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in respect of the 3% statutory remittances from oil and gas companies in the custody of the EFCC.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had since December 2020 approved the transfer of monies earlier paid by International Oil Companies (IOCs) into the CBN/EFCC account meant to be transferred to the CBN/NDDC account.
Ekong noted that the EFCC chairman granted Akpabio’s request for 10.00am but due to other exigencies, the Minister requested for a change of time to 11.30am whereupon the Bawa amended the request to 12:00 noon due to his busy schedule.
He said the two top government official met and had a robust discussion and the Minister received very intelligent and useful input from the EFCC chairman on the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
“However, the discussion was inconclusive since the Minister needed to attend a security meeting with select South-South/South-East leaders and Governors in the Office of the National Security Adviser then slated for 1.30pm of the same day. Both officials resolved to reconvene same day by 5.00pm to conclude their interactions. The Minister returned to the office of the EFCC chairman at about 5.45pm and departed thereafter at about 6.20pm after very resourceful deliberations.
“There was no issue of detention and Senator Akpabio could not have carried $350,000 into the office of the chairman of the EFCC as he went there without a bag or a container. The EFCC chairman Bawa gave useful and intelligent advice on the methodology of achieving success in the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.
“The Honourable Minister sought the cooperation of the EFCC to actualise recoveries of further 3% levies due to the commission still being owed by some oil and gas companies.
“The meeting between the duo was not arranged by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN and for the umpteenth time, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs did not bribe the Honourable Attorney-General with $5million as alleged to get Mr. Effiong Akwa elevated to the position of the Interim Administrator of the NDDC.
“The above explanation is to disabuse the minds of the general public against the falsehood peddled by the authors of the false and malicious publications.
“The general public is hereby advised to discountenance the said publication as it is propelled by persons whose stock-in-trade is politics of blackmail now occasioned by the very serious progress made in respect of the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC,” Ekong added.