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Money Laundering: Appeal court upholds Senator’s conviction, orders his rearrest

The Court of Appeal, sitting in Calabar, Cross-River state, on Friday, upheld the conviction of Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, the Akwa Ibom state governorship flag bearer of the Young Progressive Party (YPP), in the last election.

The court also ordered that he be arrested.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had accused Senator Akpan of money laundering to the tune of N240 million.

The EFCC had alleged that Akpan as then Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee under the Senator Godswill Akpabio administration, had received 12 cars valued at about N240 million as bribe from oil magnate Olajide Omokore, a contractor who executed a N3 billion contract for the state government.

The EFCC said 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.

Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court, Uyo, on December 1, 2022, found Senator Akpan, guilty of seven-counts of money laundering preferred against him by the prosecuting team and sentenced him to 42 years imprisonment, without an option of fine.

Senator Akpan who was sent to prison was however granted post-conviction bail on health grounds on December 28 2022, by a vacation court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, presided over by Justice S. I. Mark.

Senator Akpan upon release from prison, approached the Court of Appeal in Calabar, to set aside the judgment of Justice Okeke but the EFCC counsel argued that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and the charge was validly filed.

The three-man panel of the appellate court, led by Justice Raphael Chikwe Agbo, while delivering judgement upheld the conviction of Senator Akpan but varied the sentence by granting the appellant an option of N1m fine on each count.

Senator Akpan was also ordered to 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 revoked the appellant’s bail and ordered that Senator Akpan, who was not in court, be rearrested pending when he fulfills conditions given to him.

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