Bassey Apkan’s conviction is upheld by the appeals court, and he must be arrested

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On Friday, the Court of Appeal’s Calabar Division confirmed Senator Bassey Albert Akpan’s conviction for money laundering by a Federal High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and ordered his detention.

On December 1, 2022, Justice Agatha Okeke ruled Akpan, the Young Progressive Party’s governorship candidate at the time, guilty of the seven money laundering charges that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, had brought against him.

But Okeke gave Akpan a 42-year prison term without the chance of a fine.

Akpan was charged with receiving bribes from businesses connected to one Olajide Omokore, a contractor who completed a N3 billion contract for the government of Akwa Ibom State while the senator served as commissioner for finance and chairman of the interministerial direct labor coordination committee, in the form of vehicles valued at N240 million.

The offense is penalized under Section 15 (3) of the same Act and is in violation of Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).

But on December 29, 2022, Akpan, who was unhappy with the verdict, went before a Vacation Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, ruled over by Justice S. I. Mark of the Federal High Court, and was granted a post-conviction bail on medical grounds.

But after his release from jail, Akpan maintained his bid for governor of Akwa Ibom State. He then petitioned the Appellate Court in Calabar to overturn Justice Okeke’s ruling.

The EFCC’s attorney, Ekele Iheanacho, argued against the appeal and asked the court to uphold the lower court’s ruling, reject the appeal, and revoke the bail that had been granted to Akpan on the grounds that “the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the charge was validly filed.”

The three-member panel of the Appellate Court, presided over by Justice Raphael Chikwe Agbo, rendered its decision on Friday and affirmed Akpan’s conviction while modifying the penalty by giving the appellant the option of a fine.

The Appeal Court further maintained that the appellant must repay N240 million to the Federal Government via the EFCC and that this repayment is not a requirement for his release from the prison.

Finally, the court canceled Akpan’s bail and demanded his arrest.

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