Nigeria’s secret police, the SSS, appears to have taken over investigation into the case of the Akwa Ibom girl who was raped and killed in April by a 20-year-old man, Uduak Akpan, who had lured her with a fake job offer.
The victim, Iniubong Umoren, 26, was buried in a shallow grave inside the suspect’s family house where she was brutally killed, in the outskirts of Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
The crime attracted nationwide outrage. Nigerians have been putting pressure on the police to bring her killers to justice.
A former attorney general of Akwa Ibom State, Uwemedimo Nwoko, told PREMIUM TIMES last week that the SSS has taken over the investigation from the police.
Mr Nwoko, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is holding brief in the case for a socio-cultural group, Ati Annang which promotes and protects the interest of the Annang, one of the ethnic nationalities in Akwa Ibom.
The late Miss Umoren was an Annang girl. She was an orphan.
She had just graduated from the Department of Philosophy, University of Uyo, and was hoping she could get a temporary job, make some decent money for herself ahead of the mandatory National Youth Service Corps.
And then her dream was suddenly cut short in the most brutal manner.
“Our steps so far have actually led to the matter being further investigated because we (Ati Annang) were not satisfied with the level of investigations that the police carried out, hence we demanded that the matter should be further investigated with all loose ends tight.
“The transfer of the suspect to the DSS is not a secretive thing, it is a public matter. They have taken custody of the suspect,” Mr Nwoko said.
What Mr Nwoko said about the SSS taking over the investigation was corroborated by an official of the Nigeria Correction Service in Uyo who informed PREMIUM TIMES, Friday, that the SSS about a week ago had taken the suspect, Mr Akpan, out from the Ikot Ekpene Correction Centre, along with two other suspects in the case.
The SSS, apparently conducting their own investigation into Miss Umoren’s killing, took the three suspects away for some days, the correctional officer said on Friday.
“They (the SSS) have just brought them (the suspects) back (to the correction centre) this evening,” he added.
Apart from Mr Akpan who has confessed to the rape and killing of Miss Umoren, another suspect in the case is his father. The other suspect is Emem Emmanuel who is believed to have been part of the plot to lure the victim with the fake job offer.
The police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom, Odiko MacDon told this newspaper that the suspects were remanded in the correction centre, but he, however, denied that the case has been taken over by the SSS.
The spokesperson for the SSS in Abuja, Peter Afunanya, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comment from him.
A lawyer in Uyo who did not want his name mentioned in the report said the SSS can wade into a case that is being investigated by the police if such a case is believed to have the potential to affect “state security”.
If a suspect in a criminal investigation is taken into custody by the SSS, the SSS would eventually have to return them to the police, the lawyer said.
Mr Nwoko, the lawyer who is holding brief for Ati Annang, told PREMIUM TIMES that it is the office of the attorney general of Akwa Ibom State that would prosecute the case, and not the police.
“It is not a matter that the police can prosecute, that is why the case file was transferred to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP). It is the attorney general’s office that is handling the case.
“Both the investigative reports of the police and that of the DSS will be put together in the same file and forwarded to the DPP for prosecution.
“None of the agencies can handle it. It is a murder case, it is the office of the attorney general that is handling the matter directly,” Mr Nwoko said.
The lawyer vowed that Ati Annang would ensure justice for late Miss Iniubong.
“I give you assurance that on our part, the Ati Annang Foundation which I represent is not going to leave any stone unturned in ensuring that justice is obtained for late Miss Umoren and indeed the society.
“Miss Umoren is only one victim, the society is the biggest loser when we have characters like this parading the state,” he said.