By Bassey Inyang
A man suspected to be impersonating the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Peter Akpanke, and two of his accomplices, Rufus Awu and Charles Ikpeme, have been arrested by the Department of State Services (DSS) in Calabar, Cross River State.
Investigations revealed that the trio were arrested at the weekend in a hotel in Calabar by operatives of the DSS following a tip-off after they allegedly conspired and perfected plans to defraud the head of a state government transport agency of N10 million.
It was gathered that Awu and Ikpeme, who are officials of the state government, allegedly masterminded a phantom petition to the EFCC against the head of the state public transport agency and then worked in league with Akpanke in the alleged bid to execute their plot.
Aside from the plot to extort money, the suspects allegedly created the fake petitions at the prompting of another top appointee of Governor Ben Ayade, (names withheld) with the intent to smear the image of the head of the Agency so he could be relieved of his appointment.
However, luck ran out for the suspects when they put phone calls to the unsuspecting head of the agency, promising him that they can work on their boss in the EFCC in Abuja to ignore and kill the petition written against him, if he could give them (suspects) N10 million so they can reach out to those that matter..
It was further gathered that the head of the agency played along with the suspects when they told him to bring the money to a hotel where they were camped.
It was gathered that while the suspects were waiting for the head of the agency to meet them with the money, a team of DSS personnel acting on a tip-off took positions in the hotel and arrested the suspects.
Reliable sources who have been following the issue said the suspects were still with the DSS at press time on Monday.
As investigation into the matter continues, the suspects are believed to have made useful statements.
Another source in the governor’s office said the top aide of Ayade who was working to get the head of the agency removed tried frantically to free the suspects over the weekend but failed.
The government source said that from the weight of allegation against the suspects, they could be charged to court and prosecuted if they were indicted after investigation.
Recently, the EFCC published a disclaimer through its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, that Peter Atianashie Akpanke and one Kabiru Shehu Bala, had ceased to be their staff.
When contacted on phone for comments on the issue, the State Director of Services, Betina Ogoro, said she would prefer to meet with the reporter face to face.
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