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EFCC opens corruption case against Akwa Ibom’s only PDP senator

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed corruption charges against Bassey Albert, the only senator from Akwa Ibom State who is still in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The two other senators from the state, Nelson Effiong and former governor, Godswill Akpabio, though elected on the platform of the PDP, have decamped to the APC.

According to the suit, the EFCC accused Albert of receiving 12 cars worth N254 million, as bribes from Olajide Omokore, an oil magnate who had been linked to former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The seven-count charge came up for hearing on Monday, at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos.

Albert, who represents Akwa Ibom North-East senatorial district, was said to have received the car gifts from Omokore between 2010 and 2014, when he (Albert) was the Commissioner for Finance in Akwa-Ibom state and Akpabio was governor.

In the same suit, Omokore was accused of offering gratification to a public officer and giving bribe on account of the action of a public officer.

Both men were absent in court and they also did not have any representatives.

According to the EFCC, on May 10, 2010, Albert corruptly received a BMW X5 BP worth N50 million from Omokore, and in December 2012, he was gifted another car, this time, an Infinity QX 56 BP worth N45 million.

Again, on November 2013, Omokore allegedly gave Albert a Toyota Landcruiser V8 BP valued at N40 million; in March 2014, he gave him a Range Rover, also valued at N40 million, and in September 2014, a Toyota Hiace High Roof car valued at N27 million.

Albert also allegedly received another Toyota Hiace High Roof car valued at N16 million and six units of Toyota Hilux vehicles valued at N36 million, all from Omokore. These “gifts, according to the EFCC, were bribes given from Omokore to Albert in exchange for contracts from the Akwa-Ibom Government, an offence against relevant sections of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2011.

If found guilty, Bassey could be sentenced to many years in prison.

Albert’s corruption case came up on the same day Governor Emmanuel Udom of Akwa Ibom State praised him to the high heavens, describing him as the last man standing, following the defection of the other two senators to the ruling party.

“He is the only senator speaking for the whole of Akwa Ibom State in the Senate,” Udom announced to a crowd of PDP supporters during a solidarity rally on Monday.

Governor Udom and his predecessor, Akpabio, had been in good terms until recently when the latter decided to dump the PDP. On the day he was welcomed into the APC, Akpabio said his defection had nothing to do with Udom, stressing that both of them were in the best of terms. He explained that he only had problems with the PDP National leadership.

But a couple of weeks after that, while addressing supporters who had come to condole with him on the demise of his mother-in-law, Akpabio described Udom as a mistake he made, but which he intends to correct by 2019.

Many say Akpabio’s defection to the APC could be an attempt to avoid EFCC investigation and possible prosecution. Prior to his defection, the anti-graft agency had indicted Akpabio in a number of financial crimes, committed during his time as governor, but they could not charge him to court because the state government did all it could to protect him.

But once he defected to the APC, many of the party chieftains, including the national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, described Akpabio as an outstanding politician who brought development to Akwa Ibom state.

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