Money Laundering: EFCC Grills Ex-Akwa Ibom Attorney-General

Uwemedimo Nwoko
Uwemedimo Nwoko

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is grilling a former Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, for alleged involvement in the laundering of N1.4 billion.

He was arrested in Uyo on Tuesday for his role in the alleged conversion of N1.410 billion worth of Akwa Ibom State Government property after being at large for several times, EFCC confirmed.

Nwoko, who was replaced some months ago after serving on the post for more than five years, was conferred with Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Life Benchers in December 2020.

He is an alleged accomplice in the N1.4 billion money laundering charge against former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro.

EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, who confirmed the arrest, said he (Nwoko) would be charged to court as soon as investigations were concluded.

Allegations

The EFCC had re-arraigned Mr Usoro, on 10 counts of the N1.4 billion fraud in March 2019 with the accomplices, including Mr Nwoko said to still be at large.

Those aside from Mr Nwoko said to be at large were the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Nsikan Nkan; Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State, Mfon Udomah; and Margaret Ukpe.

In February, the EFCC closed its case against Mr Usoro after calling Idongesit Udom, a deputy manager at Zenith Bank, as its first witness and Abdulrahman Arabo, the investigating officer as its second and final witness.

After discharging the witness and closing its case, the defendant through his counsel, Effiong Effiong, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, told the court of the defendant’s intention to file a ‘no case’ submission.

The EFCC alleged that Mr Usoro, among others, conspired with others to convert N1.4 billion belonging to Akwa Ibom State Government, which sum they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful activity.

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Effiong’s position

Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer, said ”My position is that he should clear his name in court. No one should accuse EFCC of persecution in this particular case.

Effiong in a statement wrote ”officials of the Akwa Ibom State Government believe that they are above the law. The whole world recently read scandalous reports from the Accountant General of the State on how the current governor is wasting public funds with impunity.

”As Attorney General, Nwoko SAN ensured that frivolous charges were filed against those who opposed the government of Akwa Ibom State. He basically turned the State Ministry of Justice into a partisan machinery of the ruling party in the State.

”He also engaged in serial human rights violation in abuse of his oath of office and position as the Chief Law Officer of Akwa Ibom State.

”As Attorney General, Nwoko SAN ensured that over a dozen people in Akwa Ibom State were arrested and prosecuted on ridiculous charges for merely speaking on social media against government officials. He cannot now claim human rights when he does not believe in it.

”I had cause to defend a number of persons who were victims of state sponsored persecution during his reign as Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State. He has a terrible human rights record. How about citizens who were detained for weeks and months under his leadership as Attorney General?

”Besides, EFCC has not violated any of his rights at this moment.

”I know as a fact that there has been dispirited efforts to truncate any form of investigation of corruption by anti-corruption agencies in Akwa Ibom State.

”Mr Nwoko as Attorney General filed frivolous lawsuits to bar EFCC from investigating state officials. Please, let’s allow EFCC to do its work. He has been running from one court to another to truncate investigation of corrupt officials. Let him face the law. If the court says he is innocent, so be it.

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”It took my intervention before one of the frivolous injunctions he sought and obtained against anti-graft agencies was vacated by a Judge of the Akwa Ibom State High Court. Mr Nwoko then refiled the same case at the Federal High Court claiming that EFCC, ICPC and the Police do not have the power to investigate the finances of Akwa Ibom State.

”In Akwa Ibom, they don’t give EFCC and ICPC access to documents.

”Nwoko himself doesn’t believe in investigation before trial. He didn’t implement that policy when he served as the Attorney-General. In Nigeria, we only remember human rights when members of the ruling elites are involved.

”He should carry his cross. He does not believe in the rule of law. I will say this before any authority in this country without apology.

”In any event, there’s no big deal in his arrest.

”I do not want to say much about his alleged indictment in the ongoing case involving the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). But it will be of interest to Akwa Ibom people to know how and why a serving Attorney General allegedly received millions of Naira into his personal account,” he wrote.