Many Nigerian politicians are in the race to enter public office in 2023. One candidate will be sitting around in his prison cell. Senator Bassey Albert, a governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), is on Father Christmas’ naughty list. He certainly won’t be getting any presents this Christmas. Justice Agatha Okeke of the federal high court in Akwa-Ibom handed the senator a 42-year prison sentence on December 1, 2022, for fraud-related offenses.
What did he do?
The story began in 2019 . The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Albert on a six-count charge for allegedly taking possession of six vehicles worth ₦204 million when he was a finance commissioner in the state.
The vehicles were allegedly received from one Jide Omokore. His name might not ring many bells until you recall he’s an associate of former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison Madueke. The EFCC in 2018 had a dossier on Omokore over the alleged laundering of $1.6 billion from oil proceeds.
Albert was found guilty of money laundering and for receiving a vehicle worth ₦204 million as a bribe. A bribe he took from Omokore in exchange for offering him a contract worth ₦3 billion.
The judge sentenced the senator to seven years imprisonment on each of the six counts. The separate sentences will run concurrently which means the governor will be out of prison in seven years.
Who’s Bassey Albert?
Senator Albert started his political career as Akwa-Ibom State’s commissioner for finance in 2007. He remained commissioner until 2014 and won his first election to the Nigerian Senate in 2015. Albert won again in 2019 and was a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) until July 2022 when he defected to the YPP to contest for governor.
Albert has had a series of allegations against him, including being charged by the federal government in 2018 over false declaration of assets.
So what next?
No one wants to spend Christmas in prison, so there’s a good chance Senator Albert will fight the judgement all the way to the Supreme Court. While we can’t predict how that’ll turn out, we do know for sure that his governorship aspirations are not happening anytime soon. All the best, Albert.