ALBERT Bassey, senator representing Akwa Ibom northeast district, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the Federal High Court, in Uyo.
The EFCC disclosed this in a statement released to journalists on the same day and signed by Tony Orilade, the commission’s acting head of media and publicity. Preferred against the senator is a six-count charge bordering on money laundering.
The court had, last Monday, June 17, issued a bench warrant for his arrest following a breach of the bail conditions surrounding his release.
Bassey is accused of taking possession of six unlawfully obtained vehicles, valued at N204 million, from Olajide Omokore, a contractor working with the Akwa Ibom state government, thus violating the Money Laundering Act.
“Investigations revealed that the said vehicles were proceeds of crime and that he committed the offence while he doubled as the Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State and Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, in December 2012,” Orilade said.
The senator pleaded not guilty to the counts, after which prosecuting counsel Mohammed Abubakar requested for a trial date for the EFCC to make its case.
Solomon Umoh, SAN, who represented the defendant moved that his client is granted bail in accordance with existing arrangements.
“The applicant in his application regretted the issuance of the bench warrant and explained his absence. The respondent has not disputed the fact that the applicant is on bail, granted him by the EFCC even as we speak,” he said.
Abubakar, however, opposed the bail application on the ground that the bail earlier granted was breached by Bassey.
Justice A.A. Okeke, presiding over the trial, discharged the bench warrant issued against the senator and granted him bail. He also adjourned the case to June 2 and 3 for the commencement of trial.
“The defendant is hereby granted bail in the sum of N20million and one surety in like sum. The surety must have a landed property within the jurisdiction of this Court which will be verified by the court registrar, and the court registrar shall file the report of verification,” the judge pronounced.
The defendant is to be held in custody pending the fulfilment of the conditions. Bassey was first elected into the Senate in 2015, and was re-elected into the house in February.