There are uncomfirmed reports that Godswill Akpabio, the former governor of Akwa Ibom State, is currently in the United States and has no intention of returning to Nigeria soon, even though he is the minority leader in the Senate.
Akpabio left Nigeria for treatment in a London Hospital early this month, following a road traffic accident in Abuja. This caused a storm in social media because Akpabio, just before he left office as governor in May, had commissioned a hospital in his state’s capital Uyo, which he described as of “international standard”.
A return to Nigeria is not looking attractive for Akpabio because a raid of the Hilltop Mansion in Uyo, where Akpabio stayed, by the Department of State Security (DSS), allegedly found a stockpile of arms and dollars.
Guns and dollars were tools of the trade of “governance” in Akpabio’s reign as governor. On July 10 2012, Thompson Essien, President and Representative of Ibibio People’s Union, Inc made this statement before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights On “U.S Policy Toward Nigeria: West Africa’s Troubled Titan”:
‘Indeed, since 2007 when the current governor of Akwa Ibom State was sworn into office in a highly controversial electoral declaration, incidents of murder and kidnapping for ransom have multiplied several folds. Most victims are political opponents of the governor Mr. Godswill Akpabio, who is documented to have declared openly and acted on his promise to persecute and eliminate his opponents. Today, freedom of speech in Akwa Ibom State is non-existent and the population lives in fear of a governor “elected” to serve them but who has metamorphosed into a dreadful persecutor, intimidator and a killing apparatus at his option. Ibibio People’s Union Inc and other international monitoring groups have documented most of these atrocities, which additionally, are widely reported by local and international media and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch. To date, hundreds of innocent people have been kidnapped, women raped, opponents tortured and murdered by the governor’s private militia, ironically supported by the resources of the people.’
More information on atrocities allegedly committed by Akpabio while he was governor is available here.
In June Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency began an investigation into Akpabio for allegedly looting 108.1bn naira ($542.6m) from his state. The Nigerian government has reportedly placed Akpabio on a watch list that could enable US authorities to freeze his assets in the US as proceeds of crime.
It would not be surprising if Akpabio flees the US if or when the possibility of facing money laundering charges there arises. As we reported in June, Akpabio paid $350,000 for a St Kitts and Nevis passport and owns properties in the islands. This was in preparation for having to flee from doing time for his crimes in Nigeria.