Before Senator Bassey Akpan became a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senator representing Akwa Ibom North East in 2015, he was the finance commissioner in his home state for seven years.
His former boss, Godswill Akpabio, who kept him on as finance commissioner for the majority of his two terms is now his colleague at the Senate, where Akpabio is minority leader.
1. The most recent: Trouble at home
Let’s start with the most recent. The federal government this week filed criminal charges against Akpan at the Federal High Court, Abuja over his failure to declare his assets.
The two-count charge borders on criminal breach of trust, diversion of public funds, conspiracy and abuse of office. He is being accused of falsely declaring his assets contrary to Nigeria’s Code of Conduct laws for public officials.
One ridiculous point: Akpan said in a statement which was attached to the charge sheet against him, that he could neither remember how much he bought his property on No. 387 Diplomatic Zone, Katampe Extension Abuja nor who he bought the property from.
He also denied ownership of two other houses said to be his, all located around the highbrow diplomatic zone.
2. Trouble abroad:
The 45-year old senator is also facing trouble that could affect his interests in the United Kingdom.
In a March 28, 2018 letter addressed to the UK Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, the presidency asked the UK government to ban Akpan from entering UK and any of its territories. It also requested that the UK government freezes all the assets and bank accounts Iinked to the senator.
The letter which was signed by the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Properties, Okoi Obono-Obla, alleged that Akpan used tax payers’ money to acquire properties in the UK and other countries around the world when he served as Akwa Ibom finance commissioner.
“The circumstances under which senator Bassey Albert Akpan acquired all these landed properties in the United Kingdom are suspicious taking into account that for the past ten years he has always been a public officer and his legitimate earnings are far below the worth of the assets he has acquired in the United Kingdom,” the letter read. “He is therefore by the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) a public officer. He is presently under investigation in Nigeria by this panel for illicit acquisition of assets and money laundering.”
“In the light of the foregoing, I am writing to bring to the notice of the Home Office Secretary, the fraudulent acts of Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan which includes money laundering activities, assets stealing, forgery, tax evasion and extortion.”
Akpan’s defence: The senator claims that the properties were acquired through a mortgage of £1 million from Barclays Bank of London.