Leo Ekpenyong, other lawyers debunk corruption allegations against Akpabio

* Akpabio

Some human right lawyers have said there was no truth in the allegation that the former Senate Minority Leader and representative of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District, Senator Godswill Akpabio, defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress to avoid being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

They said there is no case against the senator as at now, and that it was mischief and a campaign of calumny by political opponents of Akpabio to claim the politician defected to escape probe by the anti-graft agency, adding that nothing could be further from the truth.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the lawyers, led by Barr Leo Ekpenyong, revealed that their law firm was briefed by clients who made allegations about N100 billion alleged graft in Akwa Ibom State, for which petitions were sent to the EFCC.

According to Ekpenyong: “The law firm deemed it necessary in the interest of justice to withdraw the petitions when in the course of our interactions with the EFCC, we called the attention of the sponsors and instigators of the petitions to substantiate their allegations and they were not able to substantiate same.

“The law says he who asserts must prove.

“We felt that as a law firm, we owed the country a duty to propagate and also seek the truth and defend same when the need arises.

“It was on that note that the firm having discovered that the petitions were fuelled and instigated by disgruntled politicians in Akwa Ibom State decided to withdraw the petitions, and EFCC may have established same.

“So as it is, Senator Akpabio does not have any case with the EFCC.”

Since Akpabio defected to the APC, there have been allegations that he did so to avoid prosecution by the anti-graft agency, assertions the lawyers faulted as the handiwork of political opponents and mischief-makers.

Also speaking, Barrister Eyo Ekong said it was wrong to play politics with legal issues of which clarifications have been made.

Leo Ekpenyong had in 2015 sent petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the petition which was copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, and called for an immediate investigation and prosecution of Mr. Akpabio.

Mr. Ekpenyong had listed some of the sins of the former governor to include lack of accountability, fiscal irresponsibility, diversion of local government funds, and acquisition of personal assets using state funds and using state funds to stoke political conflicts.

But When the former governor was not charged to court, Mr. Ekpenyong took on the EFCC during a live interview with the African Independent Television (AIT), questioned the integrity of the commission’s leadership and expressed his loss of confidence in its ability to bring Mr. Akpabio to justice.

But in November 2015, Ekpenyong was arraigned by the police in court for defamation, the charge bothering on the unsubstantiated allegations he made against top officials of the EFCC, while appearing on AIT.

The EFCC later invited Mr. Ekpenyong October, 2015, and interrogated him over the allegations he made during the television programme. He was released after being grilled for hours.

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