The Federal Government has filed charges against the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom North East, over alleged non-declaration of some of their assets. The charges were filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel (SPIP).
In his reaction, Ekweremadu said it was an attempt by the chairman of SPIP, Mr. Ofem Obono-Obla, to smear his name in midst of the current political activities. He described the suit as laughable and malicious.
While the charge against Ekweremadu was assigned to Justice Binta Nyako, Justice John Tsoho would handle Akpan’s matter. Meanwhile, the court has granted the Federal Government leave to serve the criminal charges on Ekweremadu and Akpan through the clerk of the National Assembly.
The orders of the court followed the complaint of the Federal Government that Ekweremadu and Akpan have been evading the service of the criminal charges on them.
Counsel to the Federal Government, Selsus Ukpong, in two separate ex parte motions, prayed Nyako to permit the service of the two-count criminal charge against Ekweremadu through substituted service via the clerk of the National Assembly.
He claimed that the deputy senate president had thwarted all efforts to serve him with the charge to formally kickstart his trial on refusal to declare his asset before the SPIP.
The two-count charge against Ekweremadu was filed last month but had not been served. Nyako, after listening to the counsel’s argument on the alleged evasion of service of the charge granted government’s request and ordered that the charge be served on Ekweremadu through the clerk of the National Assembly.
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In the second ex parte motion argued before Tsoho, also of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Ukpong had complained that Akpan allegedly refused to be served. The counsel prayed Tsoho for an order to permit the two-count criminal charge to be served on Akpan.
Ukpong also prayed the court for an order permitting the federal government to temporarily take over two buildings traced to Akpan pending the investigation of allegations of false asset declaration against him. However, Tsoho refused to grant the order to temporarily forfeit the houses in Abuja traced to the senator to government While Nyako adjourned the matter of Ekweremadu to October 22, Tsoho adjourned that of Akpan to November 19, both for mention.
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu said: “I insist my hands are clean. Anybody who knows any undeclared assets of mine should feel free to avail the public of such information. Nigerians and the international community should, therefore, disregard this latest campaign of calumny and witch-hunt.
“Let me re-affirm to Nigerians and my supporters that I have no assets declaration case to answer. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires public office holders to declare their assets every four years, a requirement which I fulfilled. The panel requested and obtained copies of my Assets Declaration Form from the Code of Conduct Bureau, where everything is stated in black and white.
“For emphasis, all my assets were fully and comprehensively declared to the Code of Conduct Bureau. What is at issue here is that the SPIP had forwarded fresh assets declaration forms to me to fill, contrary to the position of the 1999 Constitution, a demand I refused to oblige because it is clearly unconstitutional.”