Was Governor Godswill Akpabio arrested in London?
Friday, 25 December 2009 13:53 Thompson Essien No one knows exactly the nature of the crime for which Akpabio was arrested and detained, though some people speculate that it involved money laundering, while others said it was about drug trafficking.
The Secrets of Governor Godswill Akpabio By Thompson Essien
For the past two and one-half years as a governor of Akwa Ibom State, Goodwill Akpabio is walking around and governing running the affairs of the State with loads of secrets on his shoulder. Here are a few examples.
1. As of this writing, there is an ongoing investigation by some indigenes of Aka Ibom State to the speculation that Governor Akpabio was arrested and detained for two weeks by the police in United Kingdom. No one knows exactly the nature of the crime for which Akpabio was arrested and detained, though some people speculate that it involved money laundering, while others said it was about drug trafficking. But informed sources confided that when the incident occurred, Barrister Assam Assam (SAN) had to travel to London to negotiate for the release of Akpabio from detention. Reports revealed that when Assam Assam arrived in London, he had a hard time negotiating with the police for the release of governor Akpabio. But through connections with some British politicians, an unnamed Member of the House of Lords was brought in to intervene before Akpabio could be released. It is said that the incident was reported to the highest authority in Nigerian.
I am told that since then Akpabio has not traveled to United Kingdom, which may explain why governor Akpabio has been sending his deputies to represent him on foreign commitments, as it happened just a few weeks ago, when former Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, in company of Akpabio’s Commissioner for Information, Aniekan Umana, were sent to Phoenix Arizona. Other sources have confirmed that the Federal Government of Nigeria actually put a cap on governor Akpabio never to leave Nigeria to any foreign trip without clearance by the Nigerian government. I cannot independently confirm the story but reports indicate that since July 2009, or there about, governor Akpabio, who used to visit the United States at least once a month, has not been in America.
An investigation on the story is still ongoing, which will bring the actual period that governor Akpabio was detained in the United Kingdom. But Akwa Ibom people do remember that there was a period when the whereabouts of the governor was not known and at the time, his aides refused to disclose his whereabouts. As of this writing, it is said that only very few kitchen-cabinet members of the governor know about the incident, and discussion of it, if it ever occurs, happens behind closed doors and in hushed tones.
2. Last month, governor Akpabio commissioned a publicly funded hospital and named it after his late uncle. At the time, many Akwa Ibom people frowned over the idea of a sitting governor dedicating a public structure for a family member. Information has just been disclosed that the governor also has instituted a memorial fund for the uncle, in which he deposited the sum of N10 billion. The money is not from private donations but the people’s money, which the people of Akwa Ibom State entrusted Governor Akpabio as the keeper. As of this writing, some concerned indigenes of the State are drafting a petition for EFCC to look into the matter, regarding the source of the fund and to ask Akpabio to return the money to the people’s treasury.
3. It has been reported that the salary of state employees for the month of December is yet to be paid. The reason for the delay, according to those in the know, is because the money for the salary of workers cannot be released by the bank, due to the contract terms of the fixed deposit, which the administration entered with the PHB bank. The administration wants to wait till the end of December before the money is withdrawn. That way, a full interest would be accrued on the money. A few months ago, though it wasn't publicly known until recently, Akpabio’s administration withdrew the sum of $3.1 million of such interest from PHB bank. The money was given to a trusted official of the bank by the name of Emem Etuk, whose husband is a Personal Assistant of governor Akpabio on Petroleum Matters, to carry it to Abuja for undisclosed reasons. When Mrs. Etuk arrived at Murtala Mohamed Airport, she was caught with the money and detained by the police. Informed sources said governor Akpabio spent more than N50 million out of the money to have the case squashed by federal authorities and force PH bank, which initially denied the ownership of the money, to assume responsibility of ownership.
The Voice of the Masses
Defender of the Oppressed
A native of Ibibio Nation, of Ubium Republic extraction
Sylvester Okoronkwo: The Second Governor of Akwa Ibom State
The joke back "home" is that Akwa Ibom is the only state in Nigeria to be "blessed" with two governors; one, who was officially (s)elected, and the other one, whose presence is as elusive as a cat, with a higher possibility that the man himself is as cunning as a fox. His name is Sylvester Okoronkwo, or is it Sylvester Okon-Ikwuo?
The presence of Sylvester to the seat of power is irksome to the power-brokers in Akwa Ibom so much that some of them can only wring their hands in the air out of frustration, embarrassment, and helplessness. As one of them confided in me, "Godswill has no ears. He never listens to anybody, except that silly and useless Igbo man."
Wherever Godswill Akpabio goes, Sylvester goes. It is rumored that if Akpabio visits the toilet, Sylvester will stand waiting by the door, as if to prevent Akpabio from escaping.
At State events, Sylvester is always seen sitting next to Akpabio, sometimes he appears to be too close for comfort. The only other person known to be half as close to Akpabio as Sylvester is one Dr. Essien, who is described as the personal physician of governor Akpabio.
Wherever Akpabio goes, he takes Sylvester with him. At the Akwa Ibom State Convention in Washington, someone confided in me that Sylvester's presence was very obvious--shinning, illuminating--as if he was in fact the real (s)elected governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The latest rumor circulating in Akwa Ibom is that Sylvester so much controls the comings and goings of Akpabio that Akpabio's wife, on several occasions, has to seek permission from Sylvester before he can see the governor, her own husband.
Many of my contacts I spoke with, confided in me that if anyone intends to see Akpabio for anything, such as a business transaction, that person has to be cleared by Sylvester, else he won't see Akpabio. The man is always there, controlling and determining who can and cannot see the governor. Those who know what is going on really don't want to talk about the presence of Sylvester for fear of reprisals. A conversation about Sylvester is always discussed in hush tones.
So, who is Sylvester Okoronkwo?
He is an Igbo man, but his ethnicity is really not what bothers Akwa people. What bothers people is that the man cannot speak and doesn't understand a single word of any of the dialects that make up the Ibibio nation of Akwa Ibom State--not even one--zip. Yet, he is so close to the seat of power.
Other than following the governor around, no one really knows what Sylvester Okoronkwo does for a living. Very few people really know what the man is doing around Akpabio. And the few who know are tight-lipped. One of them wrote to me, "Are you asking me to tell you about that Igbo man? No way! Do you want Akpabio to send one of those boys who drinks akai kai all day and smokes Indian hemp all night to come and kidnap my wife and kill my children?"
Sylvester does not socialize with the people. That makes it difficult for anyone to know the level of education attained by Sylvester, which might have convinced people of his qualifications to advise Akpabio. In fact, I am told that most of the times, he speaks only pidgin English, and his usual way of greeting is also in pidgin; "Broda, auw now? How ko de ko tuday?"
Sylvester does not work, does not sow, yet he reaps a lot. He is reputed to be one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest, man in Akwa Ibom. It is said that out of the one hundred percent (100%) of Certificate of Occupancy signed by Godswill Akpabio, since becoming a governor, at least thirty five percent (35%) of the Certificate was issued to Sylvester, with his name clearly written on the Certificate.
With such a large quantity of certificates, Sylvester Okoronkwo has become a big-time land owner in Akwa Ibom, and nearly all the lands are in prime locations. Yet, Sylvester does not understand a single dialects of Ibibio nation.
The ongoing rumor is that Sylvester Okoronkwo is a stooge that had been planted by the powerful Igbo millionaires, who gave Akpabio money to run for office. So, Sylvester's role is to make sure that the millionaires get their money through all the lucrative contracts in Akwa Ibom. That may explain why Godswill Akpabio awarded the contract to build the Entertainment Center to an Igbo man, a contract, which is reputed to be the biggest, so far, in terms of the amount of money involved. True or not, such are the popular assumptions in Akwa Ibom State.
The second rumor is that Akpabio is using Sylvester's name as a conduit to launder money that belong to the people of Akwa Ibom. It is speculated that some of the signed Certificates of Occupancy, which Akpabio issued in Sylvester's name, really belong to Akpabio.
Maybe that is why someone sent me the following email, "Akpabio practically owns Uyo. Not too long ago, he bought a piece of land from one of you guys, who live there in America, for millions of naira. Now tell me, the man has been a governor for less than two years, where does he get that kind of money to buy that land. So, if people tell you that Akpabio is not corrupt, just don't say anything, because time will soon prove you right."
I am told that the movers and shakers within the PDP in Akwa Ibom State are so incensed by the presence of Sylvester that they have determined to mobilize efforts to make sure that four years is all what Akpabio is going to enjoy as a governor.
Again, I ask, who is Sylvester Okoronkwo? If it is true that he is an indigene of another state, why is he so close to the symbol of political power---the governor---of Akwa Ibom people?
Maybe our Hon. Commissioner for Information can explain to us why the man is becoming so powerful in Akwa Ibom State. I hope the Commissioner can answer the questions, without being too emotional.
A native of Ibibio nation of Ubium Republic extraction, now living in the safe and beautiful city of Portland, Oregon, where no AKPF, ADUMA, and Akwa Ibom State politician can reach.