Lawyers and some individuals in Akwa Ibom have not struck a chord as to the appropriateness or otherwise of anti-graft agencies of the federal government of Nigeria probing Senator Godswill Akpabio, the immediate past governor of the state on allegation bordering on corruption.
Recently there have been media reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is beaming its search light on Akpabio following petitions by Abuja based lawyer, Mr. Leo Ekpenyong, alleging the former governor had in connivance with others diverted billions of Akwa Ibom State funds into personal pockets while serving as the state governor between 2007 and 2015.
According to Mr. Aniedi Abotti, a legal practitioner and former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, of Ikot Ekpene branch who spoke over the telephone with TNN, the anti graft agencies “have powers much as the law setting them up gives them power to do so”, but quickly added that “they don’t have unimpeded powers to investigate public officers”.
Abotti also condemned what he called “blanket allegation” and insinuated that the selection of public officers for probe suggested “political victimization”.
But Francis Ekanem, a lawyer and former NBA Chairman of Uyo branch told TNN in a telephone interview that “everybody must be ready to give account of public offices occupied at anytime. It follows necessarily that at anytime one could be called upon to give account of the offices he occupied. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance on the part of leaders, the led and even the press so that the powers entrusted in public offices would not be breached.”
“The anti-corruption agencies are empowered by law to investigate and prosecute a person based on the evidence obtained against him/her. Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the anti-corruption agencies looking into the activities of the former governor (Akpabio)”, said Paul Nyambi, another Uyo based lawyer and rights crusader, in a chat with TNN, who also added that “If found clean, he will be exonerated from all wrongdoing”.
Frowning at apparent selective nature of the on-going war against corruption by the federal government, Nyambi opined that “there is need to consider probing civil servants who have acquired wealth more than their means”.
Also, Inibehe Effiong, Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, who has been vociferously criticizing Akpabio in social media, in a mail sent to TNN, stated that as a governor between 2007 and 2015 Akpabio “was constitutionally the chief executive power of the state”, hence, “the buck stops at his table”.
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