A civil society organization (CSO), Professionals for Integrity and Good Governance (PIGG), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to investigate what it called a “controversial bail” given to Senator Bassey. Albert Akpan representing Akwa. Ibom North-East in the Senate, after being convicted of fraud by a court of law.
Remember that on December 1, 2022, a Federal High Court sitting in Uyo sentenced Senator Akpan of the Young Peoples Party (YPP) to seven years in prison for each of the six counts brought against him by the Commission of Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC). ).
The group’s co-convener, Mr. Morris Alozie, made the call at a press conference in Abuja on Monday.
He described the lawmaker’s release from prison as a mockery of the Nigerian legal system and called for the revocation of post-conviction bail.
Alozie described the bail as a setback for the country’s anti-corruption fight if he is allowed to stay.
He insisted that although Akpan was allegedly released on bail due to health problems, he has continued to engage in hectic and physically demanding political and sports activities, making the reason for his bail highly suspect and questionable.
He said: “Therefore: We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to launch an investigation into the circumstances that led to the
transfer of Senator Bassey from the Ikot Ekpene Custodial Center to a hospital in complete disregard of the provisions of the law, an act that derails his fight against corruption, and that brings the perpetrators of this cowardly act to justice.
“Call on the National Council of the Judiciary to order an investigation of the Hon. SI Judge Mark for granting bail to Senator Bassey on legally untenable and suspect grounds.
“Call on the Attorney General of the Federation and the President of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to seriously initiate the appeal process against the decision to immediately release Senator Bassey in accordance with the stated position of the current government against corruption.
“Since Senator Bassey is fit to play golf, he is also fit to stay in prison, a more relaxing and restful place, for a heinous money laundering crime he committed.
“Allowing Senator Bassey to get away with it paints a bad picture of our legal system and gives the impression that there are no consequences for bad behavior, especially after the person has been found guilty by the court.”
He noted that after the conviction, Akpan was taken to the Ikot Ekpene Custody Center in Akwa Ibom State, to serve his prison sentence.
Alozie added: “The development was praised by impartial people in society as it marked a quantum leap in the fight against corruption.
“Disturbingly, after conviction, Senator Bassey only spent a few days in a Custodial Facility, as prison officials transferred him to hospital under disputed circumstances and without regard to the conditions set out in section 25 ( 1) of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2022, which requires that before a prisoner is transferred to a hospital, the prisoner must be seriously ill, a medical officer at the facility must certify his poor health, and there is no suitable accommodation in the hospital. Hub.
“Senator Bassey was not seriously ill, the Center’s medical officer did not certify his alleged ill health and the Ikot Ekpene Custody Centre, which is considered one of the best prison facilities in West Africa, has adequate accommodation.
“Furthermore, the senator rushed to the Federal Superior Court, Port Harcourt Judicial Division, even though he was convicted in the Uyo Division and requested bail on the excuse that he has been battling longstanding ailments ( hypertension and diabetes) for 14 years.
“Questionably, the court presided over by the Hon. SI Judge Mark granted bail to Senator Bassey against judicial decisions of the higher courts against granting bail in such circumstances.
“Just a few days ago, the highest court, the Supreme Court, refused to grant post-conviction bail to Senator Peter Nwaoboshi jailed on two counts of fraud despite his persistence, a further indication of the error in the decision. of Judge Mark to grant Senator Bassey bail.
“The speed and speed with which the court granted the request for bail is alarming and suspicious.
“It took a period of 8 business days for the request to be presented, notified to the parties, argued, heard and determined by the court.
“Request for bond submitted on 12/16/2022 and sentence handed down on 12/28/2022. Very rare!
“We unequivocally declare that the medical excuse used to grant Senator Bassey bail is untenable under the law.
“Many inmates in different Custody Centers in Nigeria suffer from some ailments that are more debilitating than Senator Bassey’s, yet they have not been granted bail, let alone their bail applications heard.
“The court has denied bail to many critically ill inmates, especially after their conviction, given that sentencing exhausts the veil of innocence generally conferred on a defendant or defendant prior to conviction by the Constitution.
“Senator Bassey’s release from prison once again highlights the two ambiguous legal systems we operate in Nigeria: one that serves the rich, high and powerful, and the other that hurts the poor.
“It questions the very foundation of our legal system that the Constitution stipulates is based on social justice and the rule of law.
“Where is social justice and the rule of law when a similar request for bail would be rejected by one party but granted in the case of another party?
“It will probably be appropriate to dub our legal system nature ‘a game of laws’ since setting rules and standards no longer matter.
“The premise on which Senator Bassey was granted bail was poor health. After his release, one would have expected Senator Bassey to be resting or in the hospital.
“Alas, the opposite is the case. Since releasing him, he has gone about his normal activities.
“He has been playing golf, attending political meetings, addressing his supporters (physically and virtually) and participating in other functions.
“Specifically, on January 2, 2023, he played an 18-hole round of golf at Ibom Golf Course accompanied by more than 13 mobile police officers who made sure that no one could photograph the condemned man.
“Intentionally, just yesterday (Sunday, January 29, 2023), Senator Bassey attended and actively participated in the Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Live Debate on television, which lasted for over two hours. He is about a supposedly sick person who was granted bail for health problems.
“Assuming without admitting that granting bail to Senator Bassey was justifiable, the basis on which he was granted bail no longer exists.
“It is fine and complete at this time. A healthy person is needed to engage in leisure, play golf, participate in debates, etc.
“On the other hand, rest is the best antidote against any disease, and prison is the best place for rest, relaxation and idleness. If Senator Bassey is sick, prison is the best way for him to rest.
“Senator Bassey’s release ridicules our legal system in the eyes of the international community and massively derails the fight against corruption, which is the mainstay of President Buhari’s administration,” he said.