Godswill Akpabio, Hon. Minister, Niger Delta Affairs has dominated the news so far in 2020 for all the wrong reasons. The Corona Virus Pandemic is only slightly ahead for obvious reasons. Why has Akpabio been so controversial? Indeed, the President deserves an international award for his uncommon patience with Akpabio given all the embarrassment caused to his administration. Of all the Ministers in Buhari’s Cabinet, Akpabio stands out like a sore thumb and is currently tasking the President’s restraint. Why is decorum so difficult for him to maintain? In the recent past, he operated as Lord and Master; oppressing the Akwa Ibom people mercilessly and absolutely without question.
A simple matter of constituting a new Board for the NDDC was made to look impossible to achieve. The President of Nigeria forwarded names to the Senate for approval as required by law. The names were duly approved. Then Akpabio came up with this whole idea of Interim Management Council! Why was it considered impossible for the Senate-approved Board to undertake the Forensic Audit? Okay, this had been overtaken by events? The first IMC prepared grounds for the Forensic Audit. Then the Acting Managing Director, Dr. Joi Nunieh was sacked for reasons now emerging as her refusal to accept juju oath-taking! The new IMC headed by a Professor and former classmate of the Honourable Minister is in charge now. He also fortified the IMC with the addition of two persons, thus making it appear as though Dr. Nunieh was not the issue but the need to expand and be more representative. How has that helped accountability? There is the issue of US$200 Million left in the Dollar Account of the NDDC y the Nunieh led IMC. It has been depleted now. Then there is the perennial issue of the Headquarters Building. Some N16 Billion has further been spent against Government regulations. Again N40 Billion is reported to have been spent on unauthorised disbursements! And then, as if to tender some defence, the new IMC claims to have spent N22 Billion as against the N40 Billion alleged. What a defence?
The IMC was designed to prepare grounds for Forensic Audit and then quit. Technically speaking, having transmitted the relevant documents to the Auditors, the IMC ought to have been dissolved and a permanent, independent Board sworn in. Some of the questions now begging for answers are:
- a) What difference does it make if the NDDC-IMC spent (misappropriated) N22 Billion Naira in 3 months and not N200 Billion? How does that exculpate the IMC from the allegations of irregular selective payments for jobs not cleared by the Forensic Audits? Is it not shameful that while the Minister goaded the IMC to make selective payments for jobs not cleared by the forensic audit, it failed to meet recurrent obligations to students on NDDC scholarships in foreign institutions?
- b) Is it not an affront to the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari Administration for the IMC to have made selective payments for the NDDC Headquarters building, supply of Lassa Fever kits, etc. when these projects had not passed through the integrity test of the forensic audit?
- c) The directive of the Minister that substantial payments be made, including the payment of N22 Billion conceded by the management, for whatever purpose for jobs not cleared for payment by the Forensic Report; does it not compromise the outcome of the Audit and undermine the authority of the President over this Minister?
- d) The Audit process, having been sabotaged by the Minister and the IMC and caused embarrassment to the President and the National Assembly, what measure of punishment does the Minister deserve in the circumstance?
- e) In the light of the Minister’s implication in some of the contracts, whether it makes sense to insist that he should continue to supervise the project?
- f) Concomitantly, whether the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should continue his perceived policy of restraint in the face of this barbaric rape of the NDDC, the only interventionist hope of the Niger Delta Region till, what now amounts to eternity?
- 3. The Essential Akpabio
Akpabio is a very ambitious person. He had shown ambition from his days in Secondary School. In the University of Calabar where he read Law, he showed promise as the Speaker of the Students Union Parliament. He leveraged on all these in his Political career. He is also a Schemer of dangerous proportions. He would identify his target and eliminate every obstacle to that achievement. He would use Machiavellian tactics to arrive at his destination. He has always had the ambition to become the President of Nigeria. Some of his buildings in Uyo, Lagos and Abuja are fashioned to evoke prestige, in his quest to become the President of Nigeria. From those who have worked very closely with him, he is intellectually lazy and acts on impulse. His miscalculations are always disastrous. He has no stamina for long suffering, independent project conception or any long term planning. His quest for gratification and vain-glory is legendary. How else does anyone rationalise the fact that he is the only Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with a Chief of Staff, just like the President? Even the Vice President has no Chief of Staff! Upon the demise of Abba Kyari to the dreaded Corona Virus, Akpabio flew a kite. Dubious publications emerged from all corners of the Social Media suggesting or in some cases nominating Akpabio to succeed the late Chief of Staff to the President. He overrated himself! He does not believe anybody else exists. He recoiled under the backlash. His Social Media boys changed tactics and abandoned the inglorious campaign. His close associates are steadfast and insist that he will still take a shot at the Presidency but would settle for the Vice Presidency in the hope that an opening by some providence, might open for him to emerge as the President. Surely, he needs money for the endeavour. Who does not know that it costs billions of Naira to get close to the Presidency?
- Some Insights
Akpabio’s idol was Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Of course for the wrong reasons! Tinubu is well known to be a builder. He is loved by his people for his peculiar Human Capital Development. Tinubu has produced a few Governors in Lagos and elsewhere. His foundation membership of the APC, long-suffering and influence in the Party is respected. Akpabio is a Gate-Crasher to both the PDP and the APC. He reigned as Emperor of Akwa Ibom and installed Governor Udom in spite of the violence that characterised the 2015 General Elections. He expected Udom to kotow to him in every respect and thereby compromise good governance. Udom disappointed him there and is the source of the unending friction between him and the Akwa Ibom State Governor. Akpabio’s appointment as a Minister was God-sent. His means of vain-glory and ostentatious living was almost extinct.
Akpabio’s penchant for scandalous upward revision of contracts is legendary. He started what is now a monumental waste of Akwa Ibom State resources in the name of The Tropicana Project. The project was originally estimated to cost N33 Billion. As at 2012, He had revised it upwards to a whopping N120 Billion! He knew all along that the project was a white elephant conduit pipe never intended for delivery. He awarded the contract to an entertainment company with no engineering experience.
- Lamentations of Akwa Ibom People
It is heart-warming that some Akwa Ibom persons and groups have lent their voices against the embarrassment caused by Akpabio to our dear Akwa Ibom State and the Federal Government. Is he the only Minister? Akwa Ibom people have been thoroughly humiliated by the financial improprieties discovered under his watch at the NDDC. The impression was already being spread that the scrutiny of the interventionist agency was being masterminded by non Akwa Ibom persons and groups solely to insult the Akwa Ibomites. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the sponsored articles by persons and groups affiliated to Akpabio make that suggestion. Some even imagine that Akpabio is the only Minister that can reasonably emanate from Akwa Ibom State. What insult! We have had Ministers from Akwa Ibom in the past and they made us proud. There is nothing sacrosanct about Akpabio and his office. There are fantastic materials from which the President can make his choice of Minister from Akwa Ibom State and they will deliver.
- Proclivity for Violence
This subject has become imperative in the light of Dr Nunieh’s personal safety alarm raised specifically to the Inspector General of Police. She warned that Akpabio should be held responsible in the event of any danger to her person. This should not be discounted as pedantry. There is a frightening pedigree. What is more, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) had issued a warning by their publications of the 7th May, 2020 to all those distracting Akpabio from his ministerial role to steer clear or continue at their peril. The threat did not go unnoticed. Akpabio was Governor of Akwa Ibom State from 2007-2015 (8 years). Under his watch as the Chief Security Officer of the State, it was pure hell. The following scenarios played out:
- a) Senator John Udoedehe. He contested the Governorship elections in 2011 under the ACN against Governor Akpabio. He was one of the first victims of Political intolerance. So many of his supporters were hounded down and killed in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene where he had gone for his rallies. He was subsequently arrested in Abuja and arraigned at the FCT High Court on trumped up charges. These facts are in the public domain and available on the internet.
- b) Chief Sunny Udom, the Director-General of the APC Governorship aspirant in Akwa Ibom State, Hon. Umana Okon Umana was the target of political assassination in his office. He held a press conference on Thursday the 8th May, 2014 in which he highlighted the fact that one of the assassins lost a finger in the process of indiscriminate gun shots. Some security agencies to which the incident was reported had dismissed the report as mere armed robbery by the local Police. There was no condemnation or any interest by Akpabio the Governor. The APC candidate was then his immediate past Secretary to the State Governor.
- c) Albert Ukpanah, a well-known opponent of Governor Akpabio’s 2015 Senate ambition was strangled to death in his residence in Abak, Akwa Ibom State on the 5th of March, 2014. The Government did not show any interest and the matter went cold.
- d) In December, 2013, Hon. Umana Okon Umana himself was the target of hired assassins when he received threats at his Uyo residence. It is instructive that contemporaneous with that threat, His Excellency, the then Governor ordered the withdrawal of his security details. This was widely reported in the press. That matter was promptly reported to the Police in Uyo.
- e) Her Excellency, Mrs. Comfort Ewang: wife of a former Military Administrator of Ogun and Rivers States, Group Capt. Sam Ewang, was abducted by kidnappers who reportedly demanded that her husband rescind his decision to contest the 2011 elections. She was released after her abductors had secured a heavy ransom.
- f) Madam Philomena Udonwa, a retired civil servant; a grandmother of over 70 years, and mother of a Singapore based Marine Engineer and Governorship aspirant, Iniekong Udonwa, was kidnapped. Her son was shot at, in a failed assassination attempt, but escaped with bullet wounds. Once again, the kidnappers allegedly demanded that Engr. Udonwa rescind his bid to contest the 2011 Elections as a pre-condition for his mother’s release. Madam Udonwa was not lucky after-all. She was abused, murdered, stripped naked, and abandoned on a lonely rural road.
- g) Mr Mike Eduok, the brother of the former Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Nsikak Eduok, was kidnapped, over his brother’s perceived opposition to Akpabio’s tyrannical governance, pre 2011 elections.
- h) Barr Umo Udonwa, slated to take over as the State PDP Chairman, was murdered in shrouded circumstances. He was a close ally of prominent members of the opposition to Akpabio.
- i) Elder Paul Inyang, a PDP stalwart also billed for the State PDP Chairmanship, was shot dead in the premises of his church. Inyang was the associate of the opposition duo of ex-Governor Victor Attah and Senator Udoedehe, on account of Akpabio’s high handed administration of the State. It soon became clear that Elder Inyang had shifted his political allegiance after he began to hold meetings with key opposition members. Clearly, Paul Inyang’s murder was not unconnected with his allegiance to the opposition.
- j) GENERAL EDET AKPAN: a former NYSC Director and prominent Akwa Ibom son, was kidnapped after a reported disagreement over sale of shares of Universal Energy Resources (Akwa Ibom indigenous oil servicing company) of which he (Akpan) was Chairman. The General was in Church and other innocent worshippers in the church premises were murdered. He was released after a ransom was paid and subsequently relieved of his office.
- k) OKUIBOM RJ OBOT: The most senior Ibibio monarch on earth was gruesomely murdered in his palace.
- l) THE EKPENYONG BROTHERS. Engr. Emmanuel (aka Submarine) and his brother Matthias (aka Mbota), were murdered in the family quarry site. Knowledgeable sources claim the brothers refused to sell. Fabian (the surviving sibling), was framed for the murder of his brothers by the State Government, after he had identified two of the actual killers. He was detained for several months and later released for lack of evidence.
- m) Dr Chris Ekong, an Economist and University teacher and former Commissioner for Youth and Sports, and later Economic Development, was framed for complicity in a kidnap case, detained for over two years but later discharged and acquitted of the charges. He was a subject of relentless persecution.
We have taken pains to demonstrate the infamy that was the lot of the Akpabio Government. It is, in the circumstance, unwise and indeed stupid to ignore any sign of threat to violence as raised by Dr. Nunieh.
CHIEF JACOB ESHIET
Chairman, Akwa Ibom Solidarity Front
267, Oron Road, Uyo
Iniubong Umoren: The Wicked Attempt to Link Her Death to Akpabio Family Will Fail
The country was recently awash with the sorrowful story of the heinous crime of kidnap and gruesome murder of the innocent job seeker and University of Uyo graduate, Iniubong Umoren recently somewhere in Akwa Ibom State.
Nigerians were shocked to their marrows when it became apparent that one Frank Uduak Akpan was responsible for not only raping her but killing and burying her in a shallow grave somewhere in the State. The police declared the said Frank wanted but arrested his father who was suspected as an accomplice when it became apparent that Frank was on the run. As God would have it, he was eventually arrested through the effort of one Kuffre Effiong and the police who lured and promised him that he will receive the co-operation of the police if he is innocent as he originally claimed.
It is of utmost interest to note that Frank’s arrest was somewhere in Shelter Afrique Junction, Uyo, not in a hotel or a house of anybody.
This story is so tormenting and horrendous that emotions naturally went high when the sad news was broken both on the traditional and social media. The prayer of everyone was that whosoever was responsible for this heinous act for whatever purpose should be brought to justice and no one born of a woman who has blood running in his veins will want this kind of crime to be covered up, no matter the personality/ties involved.
However, it is astonishing and profoundly wicked for any being, let alone a trained journalist to sit in the comfort of his home or office in far away America and concoct lies just to drag the name of Senator Akpabio and his dear wife in the murder saga just to satisfy whosoever is paying him for that kind of “dirty job”.
At what point does fiction transform into a reality and to what end can any sane being market cock and bull story to un-discerning members of the public? It is still shocking that mere conjectures of a journalist have been made to develop a life and be termed factual without any shred of evidence linking the crime to the Akpabios. The only snag in all these though, is that marketing fictions today through the social media has become the pastime of evil doers and the un-discerning members of the public have become so gullible that these tortoise stories are taken in, line, hook and sinker without any pinch of salt.
In a short while, we will analyse this story as put out by this David Hundeyin who is said to be a Nigerian Investigative Journalist resident in America from where he has perfected his nasty habit of running people down with his fictional stories about matters he has no knowledge of, maybe for money or just to garner fame. Reading many of Hadley Chase books is very good, but the danger is when the reader cannot distinguish between fiction and reality.
By the way when his lies fell like pack of cards, he is alleged to have hurriedly pulled down the story of linking senator Godswill Akpabio and his dear wife to the murder allegation from his blog or someone’s blog by name Newswirengr where he titled the story “Murder in Uyo: Who Killed Hiny Umoren?” He has a right to refute the story of having pulled it down.
In his report, the journalist claimed that he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect in the murder case, Akpan . According to him, Akpan called a number of people after the murder of the female graduate. He stated that the said Kuffre Effiong works with Niger Delta Civil Service. He further alleged that the killer and the said Kuffre Effiong met physically at a certain 58G, Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo. His “investigative skill” revealed that Akpan the alleged killer worked for an “illegal organ trafficking ring to feed the booming global black market organ trade”.
His fictional story line continued from his Twitter handle on 11th of May where he further published his falsehood as follows ” It has just come to my attention that Davok Suites, the hotel at the centre of the 58 Unit G/S 9, Unit G, Ewet Housing Estate nexus involving Kuffre Effiong and Frank Uduak is owned by none other than Ekaette Akpabio, wife of Godswill Akpabio”
As evidence of pure insanity occasioned by excessive use of terrible and self destructive drugs, the said David Hundeyin continued, “In other words, this place where Frank Uduak Akpan, fresh from murdering Ini Umoren came to meet Kuffre Effiong, belongs to the wife of Kuffre’s boss and Federal Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio. So which politician has Kuffre been running errands for?”
Before analyzing David Hundeyin’s super script meant for Nollywood, this writer is very grateful to God that the said culprit, Mr Frank Akpan, his cousin Kuffre Effiong and one Local Government Chairman of Uruan in the State who is a relation to both Kuffre and Frank are all alive, and happily too the culprit is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Police Authority for proper investigation. These people have made and are still making useful statements to the police authority whom we implore to employ extreme and painstaking professionalism in investigation and come up quickly with their findings, including what steps should be taken to ensure justice to the family of the bereaved. The girl’s death as a matter of fact, must surely be avenged by the Authorities.
This innocent victim sought to be gainfully employed instead of engaging in anything illegal or criminal like some do, but met her end in an unfortunate circumstance that demands remedy and justice.
Back to David Hundeyin’s story. He said “he analyzed the telephone calls of the prime suspect and he found out that the suspect called several persons after the murder”. One of the persons he allegedly called, according to him, was Kuffre Effiong who worked with Niger Delta Civil Service. Having found out that the said Kuffre works with Niger Delta Civil Service, he must have been told by his co-conspirators who specialize in smearing Senator Akpabio’s name to go ahead and link by all means the heinous crime to him in order to make headline and give them a false sense of victory. If only men were God?
In no distant time, his collaborators fed him another lies that the alleged killer, Mr Frank Akpan met Kuffre in a hotel named Davok Suites at Ewet Housing Estate in Uyo and they mentioned the address of the place. The Hotel according to him belongs to the wife of senator Godswill Akpabio. With that, he ran to the market with the story that Akpabio and his dear wife were certainly the ones responsible for the heinous murder of the innocent girl, more so since they must have been engaged in his imaginative illicit global market specialising in trading on human parts!
Fortunately the culprit has made both written and oral statements which the police authority are in custody of. The cousin, Mr Kuffre Effiong has also issued a comprehensive statement on his Facebook Page which can be seen online by those who want to know the truth and the Local Government Chairman who is in opposing political party with Senator Akpabio has also issued a statement on the incident. By virtue of their various statements, the following are the emerging truth about this case pending when the police will conclude their investigation:
(a) The alleged culprit Mr Frank Akpan, Mr Kuffre Effiong and the Local Government Chairman of Uruan are all related as they are cousins. None of them have any relationship with the Akpabios either remotely or directly. None of them has ever met Senator Godswill Akpabio or his wife or their existence known to the couple.
(b) The culprit Mr Frank Akpan was arrested at Shelter Afrique Junction by the Nigerian Police in conjunction with the said Mr Kuffre Effiong, a cousin to the culprit who used his relationship to lure the culprit into police reach for the seamless arrest.
(c) The culprit was taken to the house of the Local Government Chairman of Uruan which is at Ewet Housing Estate in company of the DPO, one ASP and Mr Kuffre Effiong who facilitated the arrest. Taking the culprit to the house of the Chairman at Ewet Housing Estate was the suggestion of the said DPO of the nearby Police Station who felt that it will be a proper place and method to use to calm the suspect down in order to elicit his co-operation.
(d) The alleged Davok Suites, a hotel in Uyo which from the story as stated by the parties in this case was never utilized either before, during and after the crime, has never been owned and is presently not belonging TO THE WIFE OF SENATOR AKPABIO. That the said hotel is alleged to be owned by Her Excellency Mrs Akpabio has been a myth used by the patronizers of the hotel to boost their ego as to the quality of the hotel they patronize in Uyo. The Akpabios have nothing to do with the hotel in terms of management or ownership. Most importantly in this fictional story of the said Hundeyin, is the fact that the hotel was never used either before, during or after the crime by the culprit or his alleged accomplices.
(e) To exhaust this issue and make an open show of the concocted cock and bull story of the Investigative journalist David Hundeyin, let me go further to give him the benefit of the doubt that assuming but not conceding that the said Kuffre Effiong, a relation of the culprit who from his own account only assisted the Nigerian Police to arrest the culprit, works in Niger Delta Ministry, does that mean that any crime he allegedly commits will be attributed to the Minister of the said Ministry? How stupid is that kind of assumption, especially in criminal jurisprudence which requires mens rea(intention) and actus reus(act of the accused) to establish criminal liability? In the absence of any conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence, no individual can be convicted of a crime he knows nothing about in Nigeria. None here was established in the said story.
(f) Let me extend my generosity further to Mr Hundeyin by assuming but not conceding that the alleged Hotel, Davok Suites is owned by the wife of Senator Akpabio. Will this mean that any crime committed in the hotel by a user who has no legal, biological or any direct or indirect relationship with the owner will be legally established against the owner of the hotel? In other words, in the absence of any established conspiracy, direct or circumstantial evidence against the owner, can our jurisprudence be suddenly transformed to hold the owner of a hotel criminally liable for any crime committed using his or her hotel in the absence of any mens rea and actus reus as earlier explained?
Few months ago, I was aware of the several meetings called by certain persons in Nigeria where activists, top journalists and chronic critics were recruited to engage in public smearing of Akpabio’s name by all means. The battle has been on, they started with the case of the Professor who was recently convicted for alleged electoral fraud during the last Senatorial Election in Akwa Ibom State. When the attempt to link the said fraud with Senator Godswill Akpabio failed like pack of cards as superior and more logical arguments were presented, they recoiled and came up with this one that sounds more stupid and idiotic. We never knew that they can descend into a pit like this, all in a bid to destroy a man for whatever reasons, known to them.
The Nigerian Police, hopefully are on top of this Umoren’s unfortunate death. They should be allowed to carry out a full scale investigation as to who and those behind the gruesome rape and murder of that innocent girl. Using the unfortunate incident to run down Senator Godswill Akpabio and his family has failed woefully. The truth of the matter is that “No weapon fashion against Senator Godswill Akpabio whether now, tomorrow or in the future will stand”. The reason for this is, “No man can curse a man whom God has marked out for blessings”.
Mr Hundeyin has committed both criminal and civil wrongs in this campaign of calumny against Senator Akpabio and that of his wife. If he thinks that by being in far away America he can utilise the social space to malign someone and escape justice, he has committed a grievous error. The arms of the law will ultimately catch up with him if he fails, refuses and neglects to withdraw his cock and bull story about the involvement of the Akpabios in the unfortunate incident of Ini’s death and apologize to them, he stands all the legal risks associated with such criminal and civil defamation. It is his choice!
Written by Mr. Smart Chizurum, a socio-political commentator and analyst writes from Akwa Ibom State
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