Journalism of Courage

Serving Senator and Governorship Candidate To Spend 42 Years Behind Bars For Money Laundering

The judge found him guilty of the six-count charge bordering on money laundering.

The senator representing Akwa Ibom North East in the National Assembly, Albert Bassey has been sentenced to 42 years in jail for money laundering.

Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, handed down the verdict in a suit slammed on him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The judge found him guilty of the six-count charge bordering on money laundering.

Bassey was prosecuted by the anti-graft agency on allegation of receiving vehicles valued at N204 million as bribe from companies linked to one Olajide Omokore, a contractor who executed a N3 billion contract for the state government while he served as Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee.

Okeke declared that the court was satisfied that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubts and he is, therefore, guilty as charged.

He sentenced Basset accordingly to 42 years imprisonment.

According to the EFCC, the offences contravened Sections 15 (2) (d) and 15 (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).

One of the charges against the senator reads, “That you, Albert Bassey, whilst being the Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State and Chairman of Akwa Ibom State Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, IMDLCC sometime in December 2012, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, indirectly took possession of a vehicle (Infinity QX 56 BP) valued at N45,000,000.00 at the instance of one Olajide Jones Omokore (whose companies had contracts with Akwa Ibom State Government at that material time), when you reasonably ought to have known that the said vehicle formed part of proceed of unlawful activity (to wit: corruption) and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act”.

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Persecondnews recalls that Bassey had denied the charges during trial while the EFCC called several witnesses and tendered documents that were admitted in evidence as exhibits.

One of the witnesses, Ngunan Kakwagh, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court how Olajide Omokore, a contractor, bought vehicles for Senator Albert after receiving N3 billion contracts when he was the Commissioner for Finance.

Kakwagh also told the court that the anti-graft agency traced about N3bn payments from the Akwa Ibom State Government and the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, to the accounts of Canwod Dredging Company Limited, Bay Atlantic Limited, Sahel Engineering, Power Nigeria Limited and Network Services Nigeria Limited – all linked to Omokore.

“My team further traced money from Omokore’s company account to the account of Skymit Limited, and when we invited Skymit to tell us the reasons for the money, we were told that it was for the purchase of vehicles.

“So, my investigation revealed that the accused, while he was the Commissioner for Finance and Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee, Omokore and his companies received monies from the Akwa Ibom State Government and the IMDLCC.

“Also, Omokore bought cars from Skymit Limited for the accused”, the witness testified.

The vehicles include Infinity QX 56 BP, valued at N45million; Toyota Land Cruiser V8 BP, valued at N40million; Range Rover, valued at N40million; Toyota Hiace, High Roof, valued at N27million; Toyota Hiace High Roof, valued at N16million and Toyota Hilux 4×4, valued at N36 million.

On May 5, 2022, the court had closed the case of the defence following the failure of the lead defence counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) to continue with the trial of the senator.

 

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