Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, Akan Okon, has denied l*aking information on the former governor of the state, Godswill Akpabio, to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission.
In a move widely seen as an attempt to shield Mr. Akpabio who is currently the senate minority leader, the Akwa Ibom government had last month secured an interim injunction from a state high court, barring the EFCC, the police, and other federal agencies from examining the account books of the state government.
The injunction was later vacated by the court.
The EFCC, in October last year, had arrested and detained Mr. Akpabio for hours over alleged multi-billion naira fraud he was alleged to have committed while he was the governor. He was later released.
Public interest in the case was revived last week when some local newspapers in the state accused Mr. Okon of l*aking sensitive information on Mr. Akpabio.
“Since I became the commissioner for finance I have never been invited to the EFCC, so at what forum would I have given information on Akpabio to the EFCC?” Mr. Okon said on Thursday, during an interview programme on a local radio station in Uyo. “Or does EFCC now take information by phone?”
Mr. Okon said he has “a very good relationship” with Mr. Akpabio, whom he first worked under as finance commissioner, before being appointed into the same office by Mr. Akpabio’s successor, Udom Emmanuel.
The commissioner, in the interview, suggested the stories published in the local media were planted against him for political reasons.
“You know that in life, there are some people because of low self-esteem, they cannot function or achieve anything directly where things are working properly. So, they will always want to create confusion and knock heads together with a view to benefiting from it,” he said.
“There have been instances that people have shown disloyalty to their benefactors, they are not committed to what they are doing, and at the end of the day because of this act of disloyalty and blackmail, they have found themselves in positions even at the state and at the federal government. And they believe that what they used to do in the past, they can continue today.
“Akwa Ibom people are very enlightened and educated, and they know the truth.”
The commissioner dismissed media reports that he and Bassey Albert, the Senator, representing Uyo Senatorial District, were engaged in political battle, ahead of the 2019 governorship election in the state.
Both politicians are from the same federal constituency.
“I do not have any problem with Bassey, except maybe there’s some other problem and it (hasn’t been) brought to my knowledge,” he said.
He also denied reports of a rift between Mr. Akpabio and Governor Emmanuel.