Fresh facts have emerged in the ongoing trial of Senator Albert Bassey before Justice Agatha Okeke of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with the Senator admitting that he received vehicles from a contractor, Olajide Omokore while he was a Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State.
Bassey is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged money laundering and being in possession of six vehicles worth N204 million, at the instance of Omokore, whose companies allegedly executed contracts for the Akwa Ibom State government.
The cars include; Infinity QX 56 BP, valued at the sum of N45million; Toyota Land Cruiser V8 B, valued at the sum of N40million; Range Rover, valued at the sum of N40million; Toyota Hiace high-roof, valued at the sum of N27million, another Toyota Hiace high-roof valued at the sum of N16million and Toyota Hilux 4X4 valued at the sum of N36million.
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”.
At the resumed trial of the matter on Thursday, July 14, 2022, Bassey, while being led in evidence by the lead defence counsel, Kanu Agabi, SAN, admitted receiving cars from Omokore. According to him, he had been friends with Omokore for nine years before he joined politics. He, however, denied knowing Omokore’s companies, and also denied being involved in the award of contracts to any of his companies in November 2013 before he left office as the Commissioner for Finance in April 2014.
In a cross-examination by the EFCC’s counsel, E. E. Iheanacho, Bassey admitted that he was aware that contracts were awarded to companies while he was the Commissioner for Finance and the Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Direct Labour Coordinating Committee-IMDLCC, but did not know if the said Committee he chaired received over N30billion as alleged.
The prosecutor further asked the Senator if he knew that the cars mentioned in the charge were luxury cars, Bassey affirmed that they were bullet-proof cars, but denied knowing if they were luxury cars. Bassey was also asked if he would be surprised to know that the said Committee he chaired, made payments to Omokore’s companies during the period in question, and he responded that he would not be surprised.
Justice Okeke adjourned the matter to September 26, 2022 for adoption of written addresses.