The federal government has written to the government of the United Kingdom (UK) requesting it to ban a former finance commissioner of Akwa-Ibom State, Senator Bassey Akpan, from entering UK and any of its territories.
Senator Akpan, who represents Akwa Ibom North-east Senatorial District, served as commissioner for finance between August 7, 2007 and 2014 during the tenure of Godswill Akpabio as governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The request is coming on the heels of findings by the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property that claimed Akpan acquired numerous properties scattered within and outside Nigeria through dubious means while serving as commissioner for finance.
In the letter addressed to the UK Home Office Secretary, Hon. Amber Rudd, the presidency also called on the UK government to freeze all the bank accounts and assets associated with the senator.
Meanwhile, the federal government in a suit pending before Justice Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja, is seeking an interim order of forfeiture of undeclared asset linked to the senator.
The presidency in a letter dated March 28, 2018 and signed by the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Properties, Okoi Obono-Obla, clearly stated that the action became necessary following the staggering revelations arising from the investigations into Akpan’s wealth.
He is alleged to have used tax payers’ money to acquire properties in the UK and other countries around the world.
But the senator claimed that the properties where acquired through a mortgage of £1 million from Barclays Bank of London.
According to the letter, “The circumstances under which senator Bassey Albert Akpan acquired all these landed properties in the United Kingdom are suspicious taking into account that for the past ten years he has always been a public officer and his legitimate earnings are far below the worth of the assets he has acquired in the United Kingdom. He is therefore by the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) a public officer. He is presently under investigation in Nigeria by this panel for illicit acquisition of assets and money laundering.
“In the light of the foregoing, I am writing to bring to the notice of the Home Office Secretary, the fraudulent acts of Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan which includes money laundering activities, assets stealing, forgery, tax evasion and extortion.
“It is kindly requested for the Rt. Hon. Home Office Secretary to use her powers to issue an Exclusion Decision on Mr. Bassey Albert Akpan from the United Kingdom and its territory pursuant to the Home Office.
“Exclusion from the UK booklet version 1.0 page 12 under corruption cited: tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and accepting kickbacks, extortion, asset stealing, fraud and match fixing in sport.”
The federal government had in February commenced Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI) with foreign countries on overseas assets held by Nigerians.
According to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, “The data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme, VAIDS, by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.”