A school allegedly belonging to Unoma Akpabio, the wife of the immediate past governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, has been seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
It was learnt that the seizure was part of investigations into the former governor who has been accused of alleged N108bn fraud during his tenure from 2007 to 2015.
One of our correspondents who visited the school, St. John Paul II School, in Shelter Afrique, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, observed that the school had been marked “under investigation by EFCC.”
It was learnt that the EFCC resorted to marking the school instead of shutting it so that innocent parents and students who had paid school fees would not be adversely affected.
The school, it was learnt, had been under the watchful eyes of the EFCC considering the enormous amount said to have been sunk into its construction.
Although normal academic activities were still ongoing in the school as of Wednesday, one of our correspondents who called at the school observed that a police van was stationed outside the gate.
A senior employee of the school, who refused to disclose his identity, only asked one of our correspondents to observe the ambience around the school.
He added that he was not capable to comment on any development relating to the EFCC and the school’s proprietor.
According to him, the school is serene with normal academic activities taking place.
The spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached on the telephone on Wednesday.
However, a senior operative at the commission confirmed that the school had been seized.
“I understand our operatives were recently in Akwa Ibom and did mark a school as ‘under investigation,’” he said.
Efforts to get Akpabio’s reaction failed as his media aide, Mr. Anietie Ekong, failed to pick calls made to his mobile phone on Wednesday night.
Ekong had told one of our correspondents on Tuesday that he was not aware of the seizure and would contact his boss on the matter.
When called again on Wednesday, he neither picked his calls nor reply a text message sent to him, asking for Akpabio’s response.
The PUNCH had exclusively reported in August 2016 that the EFCC is intensifying investigation into the former governor and was planning to seize his properties and freeze accounts linked to him.
The EFCC had written five banks demanding information on Akwa Ibom State finances under Akpabio’s administration.
The commission also invited key members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and serving commissioners many of whom served during the ex-governor’s administration.
A source at the EFCC said, “We have written to Zenith Bank, Keystone Bank, FCMB, Skye Bank, and UBA demanding information on the state’s accounts. We are also inviting the accountant-general, the auditor-general, the Speaker and the clerk of the House of Assembly.
“We have traced some houses to the former governor in Lagos and Abuja and it is just a matter of time before we seize them.”
The EFCC had started looking into Akpabio last year when he was first quizzed by detectives following a series of petitions written against him.
Akpabio, who is now the Senate Minority Leader, was accused of embezzling public funds while he was governor of the oil-rich state.
He was accused of lavish spending such that on March 2013, he openly gave N1m each to the six chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party from the South-South geopolitical zone who had converged on Port Harcourt for a party reconciliation session and told them to use the money to ‘buy Mr. Biggs’
As the commission was investigating the ex-governor, the Akwa Ibom State Government, headed to a state High Court to get an interim order barring the EFCC from investigating his administration.
The Justice Ntong Ntong-led court on July 15, 2016, granted an interim injunction, restraining the EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission; and the Inspector-General of Police from investigating the finances of the Akwa Ibom State Government.
The suit was filed on behalf of the state government by the state Attorney General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, who also served under Akpabio and is believed to be loyal to the former governor.
— The PUNCH