The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission detained the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio after he attempted to bribe the Chairman of the anti-graft agency, Abdulrasheed Bawa, SaharaReporters has learnt.
Sources told SaharaReporters on Friday that Akpabio and five others with him, said to be his aides, were detained for two hours last Monday, April 12 by the EFCC after the minister attempted to bribe Bawa with $350,000 (about N135 million).
According to sources, Akpabio was trying to bribe the EFCC Chairman because of the tons of corruption allegations against him, dating back to the time he was governor of Akwa Ibom State.
It was learnt that the meeting between Akpabio and Bawa was arranged by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who was recently embroiled in a N5 million bribery controversy himself.
Akpabio was said to have carried the $350,000 in cash personally to Bawa before he was detained.
SaharaReporters gathered that it took a call from the Aso Villa to the EFCC Chairman to get Akpabio and his aides released.
A top source in the EFCC said, "He arrived at the EFCC office with five others and headed to meet the newly appointed Chairman, Bawa.
"The Attorney General of the Federation who was recently arranged the meeting for the minister. You remember his bribery issue with Malami himself involving $5 million.
"He was ushered in at 1 pm to see the EFCC chairman while carrying the money personally. He was arrested and detained, along with his aides, all six of them. It was a call from the Villa that got him released after two hours."
However, it was not clear as of the time of writing this report if the $350,000 had been released to Akpabio but SaharaReporters learnt that there had been enormous pressure on Bawa to return the money to the minister.
According to reports, Akpabio had also bribed Malami and others with $5 million to get Effiong Akwa appointed as the sole administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission, an allegation both of them denied.
There have also been allegations of N40 billion fraud perpetrated in the NDDC which is under the supervision of Akpabio's ministry, explaining the pressure on Akpabio to clear the weight of corruption allegations hanging on his neck.
The Senate and the House of Representatives had last year resolved to probe the alleged N40 billion financial recklessness of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the NDDC in the previous three months.
But Akpabio, whose ministry supervises the agency, swiftly released a statement entitled “Re: National Assembly probes alleged N40bn corruption in NDDC”, saying under the supervision of the Niger Delta Affairs ministry, no corruption has been recorded in the NDDC.
Also, there have been allegations of over N86 billion contract scam involving Akpabio and the Acting Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, which the EFCC has been looking into.
Noting the pressure on Akpabio, another source said, "Don't forget he has tons of corruption cases with the EFCC right from when he was a governor. And now with NDDC scams in billions, he is under a lot of pressure.
"When Akpabio was released, he called Malami, who had arranged his meeting with the EFCC chairmen, frantically asking him to drive to the EFCC office to explain to Bawa that he didn’t mean to cause him any harm by bribing him but Malami said he was sick.
"Malami told him he had just returned from Turkey after which he travelled to Sokoto and collapsed in public."
SaharaReporters had on April 15 reported how Malami collapsed in Sokoto state while he was there for the inauguration of the reconstructed State High Court complex by Governor Aminu Tambuwal.
It was gathered that the minister collapsed after delivering his address at the ceremony and was quickly revived by his aides and dignitaries who helped him to stand.
He was subsequently hospitalised at a private facility upon his return to Abuja.