Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government hasÂ written to the government of the United Kingdom requesting it to ban a former Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Finance, SenatorÂ Â Bassey Akpan, from entering UK and any of its territories.
Akpan, who represents Akwa Ibom North-East senatorial district in the National Assembly,Â served as commissioner for finance between August 2007 and 2014 during the tenure of Godswill Akpabio as governor.
The request is coming on the heels of findingsÂ by the Special Presidential Investigating Panel for the Recovery of Public Property that claimed Akpan had acquired numerous properties scattered within and outside Nigeria through dubious means while serving as a finance commissioner.
In the letter addressed to the UK Home Office Secretary, Hon. Amber Rudd, the presidency also called on the UK government to freeze all the bank accounts and assets associated with the senator.
Meanwhile, the federal government in a suitÂ pending before Justice Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja, isÂ seeking an interim order of forfeiture of undeclared asset linked to the senator.
The presidency, in a letter dated March 28, 2018 and signed by the Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Properties, Okoi Obono-Obla, clearly stated that the action became necessary following the staggering revelations arising from the investigations into Akpanâ€™s wealth.
He is alleged to have used taxpayersâ€™ money to acquire properties in the UK and other countries around the world.
But the senator claimed that the properties where acquired through a mortgage of Â£1mÂ from Barclays Bank of London.
According to the letter, â€œThe circumstances under which Akpan acquired all these landed properties in the United Kingdom are suspicious taking into account that for the past ten years he has always been a public officer and his legitimate earnings are far below the worth of the assets he has acquired in the United Kingdom.Â He is therefore by the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999(as amended) a public officer.Â He is presently under investigation in Nigeria by this panel for illicit acquisition of assets and money laundering.
â€œIn the light of the foregoing, I am writing to bring to the notice of the Home office Secretary, the fraudulent acts of Mr.Â Bassey Albert Akpan which includes money laundering activities, assets stealing, forgery, tax evasion and extortion.
â€œIt is kindly requested for the Home Office Secretary to use her powers to issue an exclusion decision on Akpan from the UK and its territory pursuant to the Home Office â€œExclusion from the UK booklet version 1.0 page 12 under corruption cited: Tax evasion, Money laundering, Bribery and accepting kickbacks, extortion, asset stealing, fraud and match fixing in sport.â€
The federal government had in last February commenced Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI), with foreign countries on overseas assets held by Nigerians.
According toÂ theÂ Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun,Â â€œThe data on bank accounts, property and trusts, which has come automatically from a number of countries is being used to support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing the tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received.â€