Governor Godswill Akpabio is known to be generous. He is said to be very free with money. And, consequently, money never constitutes a stumbling block whenever he sets to achieve something. This has won him accolades with regard to many of his achievements in his state.
But could he have parted with N5billion just to ensure his preferred candidate won the last governorship election in Akwa-Ibom State? Check out this scene in Uyo, the state capital last week:
According to Vanguard, it was an unusual and tensions-soaked meeting at the Akwa-Ibom State secretariat of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, along Udo Udoma Avenue, Uyo last Thursday and the agenda of the meeting was ‘Threat To Life’.
The Akwa-Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner-REC, Barrister Austin Okojie had summoned the staff including security operatives and Youth Corps members attached to the
commission to inform them of how he had been rattled by repeated anonymous telephone calls all of which, he said, conveyed death sentences on him by a one of the security staff. The said staff was demanding his share of the Five Billion Naira (N5BN) the REC allegedly received from Governor Godswill Akpabio on behalf of the staff of the commission. The INEC boss was being told to be fair to others and let them have a piece of the cake or face horrendous consequences.
As human, Okojie, the state INEC boss, said he was engulfed with fear such that he lost his composure even though he did not know the character behind the treacherous intermittent midnight calls and even when he was speechless each time the calls came; the person aggravated his fears by sending text messages.
At this point, the REC told the staff at the meeting that he finally decided to call the Department of State Service (DSS) both in Akwa-Ibom and Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to complain of the danger to his life and also the lives of his family members with whom he had been subjected to trauma through those midnight calls and text messages. He said that he was advised by the DSS to forward the text messages for forensic tests. He said:
“I don’t know whether this person knows exactly what N5 Billion looks like in volume! I will collapse if I see that kind of money. Besides, I don’t think I can finish that kind of money in my life time. If I should be in possession of N5BN, I wouldn’t be sitting here today, I would have travelled out of this country with my family and settled there to enjoy the money.
But it is pathetic the way people speculate and spread false information in this state. I was barely five days in this state when some sponsored local newspapers published on their front pages that Governor Akpabio received me into the state with N5 billion and 2,000 bags of rice.
I want you to know that I have not received any gratification or the so called N5billion directly or indirectly on your behalf from anybody. I am also not indebted to any of you because all your allowances, claims and entitlements have been paid up to date”.
He lamented that following the threats which were often issued at nights, he was no longer feeling safe and comfortable in the state and may be tempted to travel home to report his experience to his people in Edo State.
“Indeed, I am worried and utterly disturbed by those threats because I have never seen or met the person threatening me even though he claims to be a staff of this commission.
“I am now living in total fear of the unknown, discomfort and danger to my life and members of my family because I can no longer move about freely as any other loyal and law-abiding citizen of this country. I now live in utter fear of the unknown.
I am so worried that my life and those of members of my family could be made this miserable by someone I am not even indebted to and never discussed with or negotiated any business with officially and unofficially as all the allowances and claims due every staff had since been paid”, Okojie lamented.
He therefore used the platform to solicit the cooperation of the security agencies in the state to investigate the character behind the threats to his life for possible prosecution as according to him, if such perfidious characters were allowed to walk the streets of the state free, many innocent lives would be rendered uncomfortable and endangered.
Some of the text messages read:
“Oga Okojie, it is a fool like you that says in your hearts and being, there is no God, because you are corrupt and have done abominable works n in you doeth no good (Psalm 14:1). U must reward all the staff of the INEC, AKS based on the money sent to them by the state Governor. You want to embezzle it for the sake of buy’n your cocaine. I am going to open your dirty can to all the anti-graft agencies.
Bet me, soon you will go in for it. For the Holy Bible says whatever a man soweth that is what he shall reap. You sow to corruption and greed, your reward is death. Idiot, imbecile, ino, barawo, ikong ekpo. God will punish you 100 times including all ur households and the incoming and the unborn generations, except you share that money to all the staff”.
When asked to react to the agenda of the meeting, none of the INEC staff numbering over 300 including security operatives and Youth Corps members attached to the commission, could immediately comment on the issue and it appeared that they were worried by the ugly development and were in sympathy with the REC for the psychological trauma he was subjected to by the threats to his life and members of his family.
However, two members of the staff summoned the courage to speak. One said:
“Honourable Commissioner, we are very sorry for what you have passed through due to those threats. The name of the staff mentioned is of the security department of this commission where I am the head. We have never discussed any such issue collectively as staff of the security department and we did not mandate him to do anything on our behalf. But as our father, we plead that you forgive him because we know that the purpose of this meeting is to enable us reason together.
“If the punishment you intend to mete out to him is too heavy, it is the innocent members of his family or his dependants who will suffer. Please, let his punishment be light for him to be able to bear. Continue to be a father to him believing that he would turn a new leaf”, the staff pleaded. The same plea was made by the same speaker even as he berated the said staff for misconduct.
Coincidentally, the alleged perfidious messages and calls threatening the life of the REC and members of his family, were tracked by the Department of State Service (DSS) in conjunction with the Mobile Phone Providers and the name of the staff was identified. He is a security staff with the commission. Even when he had allegedly destroyed the SIM card after executing his malicious project, the text messages were said to have been used to identify the source, location and the image of the person.
Following this revelation, the DSS was said to have swung into action and got the suspect apprehended.
Director-General (D-G), Department of State Service, Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Toma Minti said the suspect, Asuquo David has confessed to his deeds and has been handed over to the police accordingly.
But the Akwa-Ibom State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs. Cordelia Nwawe did not respond to phone calls for comment on the issue.