There was anxiety, apprehension and palpable tension in the political atmosphere in Akwa Ibom as operatives of the Code of Conduct Bureau, from its national headquarters, Abuja, recently stormed the state for asset declaration verification of political office holders in the state.
TheMail learnt authoritatively that there was apprehension in the Hilltop Mansion as the team’s first point of call was Government House where they reportedly met with Governor Udom Emmanuel behind closed doors.
The team, which comprised operatives of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Department of State Security (DSS), as well as personnel of the bureau, was in the state to verify the assets declared by Governor Udom Emmanuel, his deputy and all political appointees, including those who served in the former administration of Senator Godswill Akpabio who were reappointed by Udom.
TheMail couldn’t independently verify if Governor Udom, his deputy and commissioners, and the governor’s aides had all undergone the verification exercise as at press time.
The team had earlier arrived the state in February and met Udom who directed the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Etekamba Umoren to issue a circular for all appointees to make themselves available for the exercise.
Our Government House source said that when the operatives arrived, there was serious fear and apprehension among top government functionaries, some of whom were former appointees of the past administration who had once declared their assets.
Although the reason for the sudden verification exercise by the team wasn’t clear, sources revealed that it was targeted at some political appointees and top civil servants.
Sources hinted that the operatives had personally met with some top government functionaries in their various offices before they moved to their State Office located at the Federal Secretariat Abak Road, Uyo.
TheMail learnt exclusively that the team met with the Secretary to Sate Government, Sir Etekamba Umoren in his office where he was quizzed on his assets he earlier declared when he was appointed Chief of Staff to former Governor Godswill Akpabio.
We learnt that the crack team visited office of the chief scribe of the government twice, interrogating him on his alleged ownership of an unnamed hotel which he didn’t include in the form.
According to our source who was in the team that quizzed Sir Umoren, on the second day of interrogating him in his office, the SSG got exhausted and infuriated and said to the team “why are you people stressing me? I told you I’m not the owner of the hotel. I don’t even know anything about it. If it were Umana (referring to former SSG, Umana Okon Umana) would you people be doing this? It is not fair, just allow me be”.
Our source informed us that other political appointees, especially those who served in Akpabio’s government were equally quizzed. We learnt that the dos and donts were made known to all the appointees. For example, we TheMail have been informed that appointees who are entertainers were told categorically that they must not collect/charge for any show/event they perform in, as this is a breach of the code of conduct.
TheMail gathered that all political office holders were expected by law to present all relevant documents filled in their assets form including Title Deeds, Certificate of Occupancy, Sales Agreement in respect to buildings, farms, vacant lands and plots, Receipt of Purchase of Furnitures, Vehicles and other means of transportation, Certificate of Incorporation of Business, CSCS account statement on Stock and or share certificate, Statement of Bank Account, as at 1st July 2015.
Meanwhile, an aide to the governor who did not want his name on print told TheMail that his boss (Governor Emmanuel) has refused to settle (obviously referring to bribery) the team as former Governor Akpabio used to do, saying this was the reason the team clamped down on them, including the SSG.
The governor’s aide who served in the immediate past administration said Senator Akpabio used to give the CCB team huge amount of money each time they visited the state which hitherto made them to go soft on government appointees in the state. The aide said instead of ‘settling’ them, Governor Udom told them to ensure that the right thing is done by his appointees. He said his boss is a man who believes in due process and does not encourage frivolous spendings.