Senator Bassey Albert Akpan representing Akwa Ibom North East is alleged to have taken possession of vehicles worth N204 million at the instance of an ally of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison Madueke, one Olajide Omokore, whose companies executed contracts for Akwa Ibom State Government.
Akpan, who previously served as Akwa Ibom Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of State Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Co-ordinating Committee, is alleged to have received the vehicles from 2010 to 2015.
The vehicles believed to be proceeds of crime are: Infinity QX 56 BP, valued at N45 million; Toyota Land Cruiser V8 BP, valued at N40 million; Range Rover, valued at N40 million; Toyota Hiace, High Roof, valued at N27 million; Toyota Hiace High Roof, valued at N16 million and Toyota Hilux 4×4, valued at N36 million.
A prosecution witness, Abdulrasheed Bawa told Justice A.A. Okeke of Federal High Court, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday.
While being led in evidence by counsel for the EFCC, Mohammed Abubakar, Bawa, who is the Head of the EFCC’s Port Harcourt Zonal Office, narrated how as the investigating officer, he led investigations into a petition written against Bassey and sent to the EFCC.
According to him, the investigations revealed how the Senator received the fleet of cars from Omokore, a close ally to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Bawa said: “In 2015, my team was assigned the responsibility of investigating the activities of Madueke as well as her associates, both within the public service and the private sector.
“While the investigation was ongoing, my team beamed its searchlight on a strategic alliance agreement on the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, which is a subsidiary of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
“During the course of that investigation, we started tracing proceeds of crime, which led us through to millions of naira that were transferred by the Strategic Alliance Partners, the Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited as well as the Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, all companies being promoted by Olajide Jones Omokore who had at various times through his companies, executed various contracts for the Akwa Ibom State Government.
“Many of such contracts were under the direct supervision of Senator Albert Bassey.
“As a result of the findings, we extended an invitation to him, which he honoured and was interviewed.
“During the course of our interview with him, he confirmed to us that he knew Omokore and that he had received cars from him at various times from 2010 to 2015.
“The cars include: An Infinity Jeep, a BMW car, a Range Rover, a Land cruiser, five Toyota Hilux vehicles and six Toyota Hiace buses.”
Abubakar, thereafter, sought to tender in evidence, the statement made by Senator Bassey to the witness in the course of investigations.
The statement was subsequently identified by the witness, and was to be tendered by the prosecution against Bassey.
However, counsel for Bassey, Solomon Umoh, SAN, raised objections to the admissibility of the statement, claiming that it was not part of the documented information given to the defence by the prosecution.
“We object to the admissibility of the said document for the sole reason that it does not constitute part of what the prosecution gave us, and as such is irrelevant,” he said, claiming further that it was not part of the proof of evidence.
Abubakar, however, countered his argument, stressing that the statement was volunteered to the EFCC by Bassey himself, and not by anybody else.
“With profound respect, the submission of the SAN is not correct, and I humbly submit that the statement is part of the prosecution’s case and it is relevant,” Abubakar said.
Abubakar further faulted the claim of Umoh, noting that: “On the part that it is not included in the proof of evidence, I submit that it is contained in pages 13 and 14 of the proof of evidence.”
After listening to the arguments of both counsels, Justice Okeke upheld the position of the prosecution, and admitted the said document in evidence as Exhibit A1.
In view of the ruling, Umoh asked the court for an adjournment to enable the defence write to the Commission and request for certain materials that he may need to defend his client, but which according to him were not contained in the proof of evidence.