A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said the police operatives who tortured a fresh university graduate to death in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, had wanted to secretly dispose of the body.
It was “one telephone call” that prevented the police from doing so, Mr Effiong, a lawyer to the deceased student, said on Wednesday while briefing reporters in Uyo on the circumstances surrounding his death.
The briefing was organised by an NGO, Youth Alive Foundation, in collaboration with Community Stakeholders for Social Good, Akwa Ibom State Civil Society Forum, and Youth Advocacy Cluster, Akwa Ibom State, and was attended by some relatives of the deceased student.
Mmanti Umoh, a member of the #EndSars panel in the state, was also at the briefing.
Kubiat Akpan, 28, was reported dead a few hours after he was arrested on August 29, tortured to death by the police, according to an autopsy report.
The autopsy was ordered by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Amiengheme Andrew, after the lawyer, Mr Effiong, publicly accused the police of killing Mr Akpan.
After Mr Akpan’s death, the police spokesperson, Odiko MacDon, said in a statement that the late student was a suspect in a robbery and cultism investigation, a claim Mr Effiong dismissed as false and irresponsible.
The deceased student, Kubiat Akpan
The late student had just graduated from the Department of Architecture, University of Uyo, and was waiting for mobilisation for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme, before the sad incident.
The police commissioner had also ordered the arrest, detention, and questioning of an assistant superintendent of police, Michael Joweigha, over the student’s death.
Phone call that changed the course of things
When Mr Akpan was picked up by the police at a popular store, Eni Stores, in Uyo, around 8p.m., he frantically made a phone call to an aunt, informing her of his arrest.
The aunt, who knows the officer that heads the division which arrested Mr Akpan, called the officer, Daniel Akpan, a deputy superintendent of police, and politely requested him to look after the student, that she would be coming over to the station in the morning.
Unfortunately, that did not happen, as the student was tortured to death the night he was arrested.
“And what did they do after his death? They took his corpse to the mortuary and dumped it as an unknown corpse,” the lawyer, Mr Effiong, said at the press briefing.
Mr Effiong said the officers who took the corpse to the mortuary refused to identify themselves, a fact that has been confirmed by PREMIUM TIMES.
“They recorded an entry at the mortuary as an unknown corpse who had an accident at Nsit Ibom Local Government Area of the state,” Mr Effiong said.
This newspaper has also confirmed that the officers lied to the mortuary attendant about where the corpse came from.
Nigerian Police officers on duty“If not for that one call, because we are reliable informed that they (the police) are now regretting that they allowed him (the late student) to make that call – to contact his aunt, we wouldn’t be sitting here today, we would have been looking for Kubiat as a missing person,” the lawyer said.
Footage from the CCTV camera at Eni Stores was played for reporters; it showed how several armed police officers stormed the store to arrest the late student.
Relying on the footage and other information, Mr Effiong and the family of Mr Akpan said it was obvious that several officers, and not one person, tortured the student to death. They called on the police authorities to bring to book all the officers who were involved in the incident.
They also said the head of the police division which arrested Mr Akpan is culpable in the student’s death, and, therefore, should be suspended immediately to give room for a smooth investigation.
The police spokesperson, Mr MacDon, on Wednesday, granted an interview to a local radio station where he insisted that the late student was under criminal investigation.
Mr Effiong challenged the police to mention the robbery incident that they say the student was involved in, who lodged a report against him and to whom. He also sought to know if the police had ever gone to look for the student at his department in the university or ask his parents to turn him in for questioning.
The Youth Alive Foundation and other NGOs that organised the press briefing called on the police and the Akwa Ibom State Government to ensure that justice is done for the late Mr Akpan and his family.
“The average Akwa Ibom parent now lives in constant fear that either their daughters, like Iniubong Umoren, would be raped and gruesomely murdered while on a job search or their sons, like Kubiat Isaac Akpan would be framed up, arrested, tortured and disposed by the men of the police paid with their tax to protect them from harm,” the groups said in their position which was presented by the Programs Lead, Youth Alive Foundation, Akwa Ibom State, Joe Otu.