Court sentences Senator Bassey Akpan to 42 years for stealing public funds

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Senator Bassey Albert Akpan has been found guilty of fraud and sentenced to a 42-year jail term in a ruling that will likely put his governorship bid to a permanent rest. 

Mr Albert, 50, until his sentencing today, was the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in the 2023 general elections. 

The lawmaker from Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District was arraigned after an investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) revealed that he looted public funds while serving as the state’s finance commissioner. The theft involved 12 cars worth N254 million.

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He was first arrested and arraigned in the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court in 2018 after repeatedly refusing to honour invitations by the EFCC. His lawyers blocked the court from trying the matter, citing jurisdictional limitations of the court. After the case was dismissed, the EFCC, in 2019, filed fresh charges at the Uyo Division of the Federal High Court to bring Mr Albert to justice. 

Mr Albert, who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Petroleum Upstream, committed the crime in connivance with Jde Omokore, oil marketer and known associate of former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke. Mr Omokore is also under the radar of the financial crimes agency, having been spotted as a key channel through which illegal funds were used to influence the 2015 presidential election. 

The presiding judge, Agatha Okeke, committed Mr Bassey to Ikot Ekpene prison, where he will serve his jail term. He did not immediately indicate an appeal.

Me Albert’s imprisonment might pave way for a potential landslide win for the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Umo Eno, against whom he tightly contested the PDP guber ticket before defecting to YPP months ago. 

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