By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio has described sexual harassment allegations against him by Ms. Gbene Joi Nunieh, the erstwhile Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee, of the Niger Delta Development Commission, (NDDC) as litany of lies.
Ms Nunieh in an interview she granted recently accused the Minister of corruption, sexual and workplace harassments, pipelines bombings, secret cult activities, abuse of office, amongst other.
The Minister in a statement issued Wednesday in Abuja by Anietie Ekong, his SA on Media, said there is no scintilla of truth in all the allegations peddled around by Ms. Nbnieh. “They are simply false! The Honourable Minister did not at any time, place or circumstance make any form of sexual advances to Ms. Nunieh, not even to put himself in a position or posture suggestive of sexual advances towards Ms. Nunieh, or any female staff of his Ministry or the NDDC.
“For the records, the Honourable Minister, Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON is happily married and contented with his wife. Together they are blessed with children, four (4) of whom are young women. The Minister is an avid believer of the Affirmative Action and that was visible in the appointments he made as a two (2) term Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State between 2007 and 2015.
“Under his watch, he appointed several women into various high level positions as
Chairpersons of Local Government Councils, Magistrates, Judges, Heads of Parastatals, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, and Commissioners.”
The statement added that Akpabio is the first Governor in Akwa Ibom State to have a female Deputy Governor, and was also the first to appoint female Chief Justices of the High Court.
“He recommended women for ministerial appointments one of whom was the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, and supported for appointment the first female Vice Chancellor of the only Federal University in the State etc. He has always championed and still champions the cause of women and young children.
The statement added that Akpabio also stopped modern day slavery in his state, where young women and children were ferried away from the State to other states in Nigeria to be used for all sorts of menial chores as house maids and most suffered unimaginable unethical trade malpractices and maltreatments.
“He ensured that anyone caught in that trade was severely punished. He signed the Child Rights Law to protect children, especially the girl child from stigmatization and punishment by ordeal where some were executed or banished on allegation of witchcraft. The Child Rights Law also made primary and secondary education in Akwa Ibom State free and compulsory; educating the girl child was his topmost priority.
“The Honourable Minister has never tfden his admiration and respect for his wife, Mrs. Ekaete Akpabio, Children and sisters, he therefore felt compelled to react to the malicious attack on his person by Ms. Nunieh bothering on allegations of sexual harassment. The Honourable Minister therefore finds the said allegation nauseating and a very cheap blackmail, for Ms. Nunieh to suggest or insinuate that he sexually harassed her, while she was the Acting Managing Director of the NDDC.
“The Honourable Minister also finds it appalling that, Ms. Nunieh, never deemed it fit to report the alleged incident to the police at the earliest opportunity she had, before, during or after her tenor as the Acting Managing Director on 17th February, 2020, if indeed the allegation was true. Waiting till July 10th and 13th 2020 when the National Assembly appears to be probing some of her actions as the Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (“IMC”) exposes her motive, especially at a time when the momentum for the Forensic Audit Investigation of the NDDC is heating up and the truth is about to be unveiled for all to see? The critical question is who is afraid of the Forensic Audit at the NDDC? Who is Afraid of the Truth?
The Minister said Ms. Nunieh’s attacks are both personal and sponsored, saying those afraid of the truth, and who wish to bury it from seeing the light of the day, are strenuously behind Ms. Nunieh’s vicious campaign of calumny.