*Akwa, NDDC interim Sole Administrator also over failure to declare assets
By Myke Uzendu
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CBB) has moved to investigate the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Obot Akpabio, over his alleged involvement in a N100-million bribe allegedly paid to some officials of the Bureau.
An online medium had reported that Akpabio bribed the officials with that amount to hurriedly and quietly smuggle into the relevant files of the Bureau assets declaration forms for the interim Sole Administrator of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr Effiong Okon Akwa, who is his (Akpabio’s) political godson.
Akwa, was reportedly appointed as Special Assistant (Finance) to former Managing-Director of the NDDC, Mr. Bassey Dan-Abia, whose appointment he was said to have facilitated between 2013 and 2015, was said to have failed to declare his assets since his first appointment in 2013 and after he was appointed the interim Sole Administrator in breach of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
The Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act, in Part 1, Section 15, subsection 1(a-c) provides that: “Every public officer shall, within 15 months after the coming into force of this Act or immediately after taking office and thereafter- (a) at the end of every four years; (b) at the end of his term of office; and (c) in the case of a serving officer, within 30 days of the receipt of the form from the Bureau or at such other intervals as the Bureau may specify, submit to the Bureau a written declaration in the First Schedule to this Act or, in such form as the Bureau may, from time to time, specify, of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 years.”
Akwa, was said to have acted in breach of these provisions and, in a bid to salvage the embarrassing situation, Akpabio had allegedly intervened to procure the service of an unnamed director to assist in curing the mischief.
The director, acting in concert with some officials of the Bureau, reportedly delivered on the job.
But piqued by the development, the newly-constituted board of CCB has launched an investigation into the bribery allegation, as well as the purported petition against Akwa over non-filing of his Assets’ Declaration Form and the story of bribery scandal that the move to cure the mischief of failure to submit his asset declaration form had spawned.
A letter of invitation, referenced CCB/HQ/COAAO/C/1, dated February 9, 2021 sent to Akpabio and received by his office in the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs on February 9, 2021 with the title: “Investigation Activities: Letter of Invitation”, states: “The Bureau is investigating a bribery allegation involving officials of Code of Conduct Bureau, reported in the news, in which your name featured prominently.
“As you are aware, this allegation is in contravention of Paragraph 8, Part 1 of the 5th Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Consequently, you are kindly requested to appear before the undersigned for an interview on Friday, 12th February, 2021 at 10.00 am prompt in CCB Board Room, 5th Floor, Annex 3, Federal Secretariat Complex, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama, Abuja.
“This invitation is made pursuant to the Powers and Mandate conferred on the Bureau as enshrined in the Paragraph 3, Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.”
The invitation letter was signed by Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, Federal Commissioner, CCB and Sub-Committee Chairman, Committee on Allegation against Officials of CCB.
The Bureau also invited the Interim Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Mr Akwa, and several others in connection with the investigation activities.