Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has denied reports that he was held in detention for two hours after attempting to bribe the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa with $350,000 on Friday.

The media had gone awash on Friday with the report that the former Akwa Ibom State Governor was detained alongside his aides for hours, after which it took a phone call from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to Bawa, to secure Akpabio’s release.

Refuting the claim on Saturday, Anietie Ekong, Chief Press Secretary to the minister in a statement made available to journalists, said Akpabio had no reason to bribe the EFCC boss.

He said Akpabio was merely invited to “discuss” the transfer of funds belonging to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC “in respect of the 3% statutory remittances from Oil and Gas Companies in the custody of the EFCC”.

“President Muhammadu Buhari had since December 2020 approved the transfer of monies earlier paid by International Oil Companies into the CBN/EFCC account now to be transferred to the CBN/NDDC account.

“The Distinguished Chairman granted the request for 10 am but due to other exigencies, the Honourable Minister requested for a change of time to 11.30 am whereupon the Chairman amended the request to 12noon due to his busy schedule. The two Senior Officials met and had a robust discussion and the Honourable Minister received very intelligent and useful input from the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrashed Bawa on the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC.

“However, the discussion was inconclusive since the Minister needed to attend a security meeting with select South-South/South-East leaders and Governors in the Office of the National Security Adviser then slated for 1.30 pm of the same day. Both Officials resolved to reconvene the same day by 5.00 pm to conclude their interactions. The Honourable Minister returned to the office of the EFCC Chairman at about 5.45 pm and departed thereafter at about 6.20 pm after very resourceful deliberations.

“There was no issue of detention and Senator Akpabio could not have carried $350,000 into the office of the Chairman of the EFCC as he went there without a bag or a container. The EFCC Chairman Bawa gave useful and intelligent advice on the methodology of achieving success in the ongoing forensic audit of the NDDC. The Honourable Minister sought the cooperation of the EFCC to actualize recoveries of a further 3% levies due to the Commission still being owed by some Oil and Gas Companies.

“The general public is hereby advised to discountenance the said publication as it is propelled by persons whose stock-in-trade is politics of blackmail now occasioned by the very serious progress made in respect of the ongoing Forensic Audit of the NDDC,” the statement read in part.

 


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