The Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar, has upheld the conviction of the governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP) in Akwa Ibom state, Senator Bassey Akpan, over money laundering charges.
Recall that a Federal High Court in Akwa Ibom State had in 2022, sentenced Akpan to 42 years in prison for taking possession of six vehicles worth N204 million when he was the Commissioner for Finance in the state.
The presiding judge, Justice Agatha Okeke, found Akpan guilty of the seven-count charge of fraud and money laundering brought against him and sentenced him without an option of fine.
However, dissatisfied with the judgment, Akpan approachede the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, and secured a post-conviction bail on health grounds.
But upon release from prison, the former Senator 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.
However, in a statement on Friday, the spokesman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren, said the appeal court has upheld the conviction but granted the appellant an option of fine.
The EFCC spokesman said the Calabar court ruled that the former Senator should restitute the sum of N240 million to the federal government through the EFCC.
He added that the court finally revoked the bail and ordered the arrest of Senator Akpan.
The statement reads: “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 N3 billion 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, Akpan 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.”