The Calabar Division of the Court of Appeal, on Friday, June 23, 2023 upheld the conviction of Senator Bassey Albert Akpan on money laundering charges by a Federal High Court, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and ordered his arrest.
Justice Agatha Okeke had on December 1, 2022, found Senator Akpan, then governorship candidate of the Young Progressive Party, YPP, guilty of seven-counts of money laundering preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and sentenced him to 42 years imprisonment, without an option of fine.
Akpan was prosecuted on allegation of receiving vehicles valued at N240 million as bribe from companies linked to one Olajide Omokore, a contractor who executed a N3Billion contract for the Government of Akwa Ibom State whilst Senator Bassey was Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee. The offence contravenes Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and is punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.
However, dissatisfied with the judgment, Senator Akpan on December 29, 2022, approached a Vacation Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, presided over by Justice S. I. Mark of the Federal High Court and secured a post-conviction bail on health grounds. But upon release from prison, Senator Akpan continued with his campaign to be governor of Akwa Ibom State and subsequently approached the Appellate Court in Calabar, to set aside the judgment of Justice Okeke.
While arguing against the appeal, counsel to the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho urged the Court to uphold the judgment of the lower court, dismiss the appeal and revoke the said bail granted to Senator Bassey on the grounds that “the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and the charge was validly filed”.
Delivering judgment today, the three-man panel of the Appellate Court, led by Justice Raphael Chikwe Agbo, upheld the conviction of Senator Akpan but varied the sentence by granting the appellant an option of fine.
The Court also affirmed that the appellant should restitute the sum of N240 million to the Federal Government through the EFCC and that the said restitution shall not be a prerequisite for his release from the correctional facility.
The Court finally revoked the bail and ordered the arrest of Senator Akpan.
▪︎ By Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media & Publicity, EFCC