The police in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, have ordered the arrest of an assistant superintendent of police over the mysterious death of a university student who was detained in a local police facility in the state.
The deceased student, Kubiat Akpan, 28, was arrested on Sunday.
He was tortured to death in police custody, his lawyer, Inibehe Effiong said.
The late Mr Akpan graduated from the Department of Architecture, University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, and was waiting for mobilisation for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps programme, before the sad incident.
A statement on Saturday from the police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom State, Odiko MacDon said the police commissioner ordered the arrest, detention, and questioning of Joweigha Michael, the officer who arrested the student.
The deceased student, Kubiat Akpan
An autopsy would be done to determine the cause of death, the police said.
Mr MacDon, in the statement, said late Mr Akpan was a robbery suspect “who had been evading arrest”, a claim that the lawyer, Mr Effiong dismissed as false.
“It is expedient to state that the said Kubiat Isaac was being investigated for the offence of suspected Armed Robbery and Cultism, and had been evading arrest for some time. He was traced to and arrested at Eni Stores on the 29th of August, 2021 and taken for questioning,” Mr MacDon said.
The police statement did not clearly say how and when the student died.
“On arrival at the Division, the DPO ordered that he be transferred to the State CID where the case was pending for a discreet investigation. Unfortunately, the suspect said he was sick. He was taken to the police clinic for treatment but gave up the ghost in the process,” the police spokesperson said in the statement.
Police statement irresponsible – Lawyer
“The statement by Odiko MacDon, as far as I am concerned, must have been issued under the influence of alcohol,” the lawyer, Mr Effiong, told PREMIUM TIMES.
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Mr Effiong said the police statement was filled with falsehood and fabrication.
“There was never a case of armed robbery or cultism against the deceased at any time.
“This was just a young boy who was picked up randomly by the police for reasons they are yet to disclose to us, taken into custody and tortured to death.”
The lawyer also said it was false for the police to say that Mr Akpan said he was ill inside the police custody.
“As at the time this boy was picked up, he was not ill, he was very healthy. It is, therefore, very irresponsible for Odiko MacDon to say this.
How come the police did not inform his family that the student was ill, Mr Effiong said.
He said the police did not inform the family that the student had been arrested or allow him to establish contact with his family.
He criticised the police for not visiting the family of the deceased student to express condolences, and vowed to petition the police spokesperson to the inspector general of police.
The Nigerian police, over the years, have become notorious for torture and extra-judicial killing, one of the underlying problems that led to the historic #EndSars protest across Nigeria last year.