* Senator Bassey Albert
Propeller Newspaper has confirmed that Akwa Ibom Senator, Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan, is currently under investigation by a Special Presidential Investigative Panel in Nigeria for illicit acquisition of assets and money laundering.
Findings by the panel say Senator Albert acquired numerous property scattered within and outside Nigeria through dubious means while serving as commissioner for finance between 2007 and 2014 during the tenure of Godswill Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The presidency had, in the letter addressed to the United Kingdom Home Office Secretary, Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd, dated March 28, 2018 and signed by the chairman of the investigative panel, Mr. Okoi Obono-Obla, requested the government of the United Kingdom to ban Mr. Albert from entering the UK and any of its territories.
It also called on the UK government to freeze all the bank accounts and assets associated with the embattled senator.
In the letter titled “Request for Exclusion Order/Decision on Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan, a Politically Exposed Person from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and member of the Nigerian Senate for Corruption Money Laundering and Fraud”, the Presidency clearly stated that its action to write the UK government became necessary following staggering revelations arising from the investigations into Albert’s stupendous wealth”.
Meanwhile, Albert through Emmanuel Ekong Esq., his lawyer, secured a semblance of a retraction from the Nigeria Television Authority International (NTAi) following an earlier report on the station’s news scrollbar which read that the senator was facing prosecution and ban in UK for looting public funds.
Ekong, had in a letter he wrote to the Director General of the NTA on Wednesday, May 9, accused the station of libel against Senator Albert and demanded a public retraction and apology.
He stated that his client “is not facing any prosecution whatsoever” or “ban by the UK government for the reasons stated” in the initial report and that the “publication/broadcast remains untrue, unfounded and therefore deliberately defamatory”.
In response NTAi wrote on its news bar during its network news time aired about 09.35 hours on Thursday, May 10: “Information circulated in the media that Senator Bassey Albert Akpan from Akwa Ibom State is barred from entering the UK and is under investigation is totally untrue and a calculated attempt to tarnish the good image of the Distinguished lawmaker”.
This was followed by a message Senator Albert himself served up on his Facebook page on Saturday, May 12, where he expressed gratitude to his constituents for their “show of love in the mist of all falsehood”, even as he assured them of his “unalloyed passion in service and representation”.
Albert wrote: “In the build up to the Appeal Court Judgement I experienced this onslaught of politically motivated media attack and eventually God gave us victory.
“Here again the build up to the Supreme Court ruling on the 6th of July, the media onslaught again by the enemies of the people, since the Devil will not stop fighting, God will not stop winning.
“All my Assets since inception of public office in 2007 were properly declared with the appropriate authority so don’t belabor yourselves on any politically motivated falsehood and propaganda.
“I will seek appropriate redress at the right time but I remain committed in serving you with the highest degree of integrity and strength of character as I expect more of these politically motivated intimidation as we approach the elections . I remain yours in service … Sen Oba”
But contrary to Ekong’s position, Obono-Obla’s said in his letter letter to the UK Government that, “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.
“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”.
It was gathered that federal government in a suit pending before Justice Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, is seeking an interim order of forfeiture of undeclared asset linked to Senator Albert.
Albert is alleged to have used tax payers’ money to acquire properties in the UK and other countries around the world.
He claimed in his Assets Declaration form dated 8th August, 2015, that all his property in London where acquired through a financed mortgage of totalling more than £1 million from Barclays Bank of London.
The federal government had in February commenced Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI) with foreign countries on overseas assets held by Nigerians.
According to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, “The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.”
Albert’s former boss, Godswill Akpabio, who is now Nigeria Senate Minority Leader, had also been accused of alleged N100 billion fraud during his tenure as governor. In the same vein, a school in Uyo, Pope John Paul ll Montessori, allegedly belonging to Akpabio’s wife, Unoma, was reportedly seized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in early 2017 as part of investigations into the N108 billion fraud in which the former Governor was mentioned.