The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed corruption claims reportedly made against a former minority leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, by Itse Sagay, an anti-corruption adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr Akpabio, one of Mr Buhari’s nominees for ministerial slots, passed through Senate screening, Wednesday.
Mr Sagay, a constitutional lawyer and professor, is reported to have expressed reservation about Mr Akpabio’s nomination.
“The only nominee I am not satisfied with is Godswill Akpabio. I don’t know how he got into the list. That is the only one I have a reservation about,” the Daily Post quoted Mr Sagay to have said.
“You know when we have a programme in which anti-corruption is number one, if anybody is under investigation or not, I don’t think it is wise to include him in that list. But the president knows why he did that. Apart from that, I am quite happy with the list,” Mr Sagay, who is the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, reportedly said.
Rising in defence
But the APC on Thursday said the former Akwa Ibom governor “does not have any case with the EFCC or any other anti-graft agency” in Nigeria.
The party said it was surprised by the statement credited to Mr Sagay.
“It is true that a petition was filed against the Senator at the EFCC by an Abuja-based lawyer soon after Senator Akpabio left office as our state Governor in 20I5.
“These cases were thoroughly investigated by the agency. The petitioner then withdrew the petition when he could not substantiate his allegations and the EFCC could not establish the veracity of the allegations in the petition.
“In that case, we note that Prof. Sagay was patently wrong in his assertion about the nomination of Senator Akpabio,” the APC said in a statement from its spokesperson in the state, Nkereuwem Enyongekere.
The party congratulated Mr Akpabio and thanked the president for the nomination.
The EFCC in 2015 quizzed Mr Akpabio, for at least two days, over multi-billion naira fraud allegation against him.
Mr Akpabio was alleged to have committed the fraud when he was the governor of Akwa Ibom.
Leo Ekpenyong, the Abuja-based lawyer, whose petition prompted the EFCC’s investigation against Mr Akpabio, declined comment on the matter when PREMIUM TIMES contacted him, Friday evening.
Mr Akpabio in August 2018 resigned his position as Senate minority leader and defected from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling APC.
He, however, failed to win re-election to the Senate in the last general election and is challenging the election result at the election petition tribunal.