Gov. Akpabio’s Hit Man Freed From Prison: Heads Roll in Ministry of Justice.

22 Feb

-Tension as DPP is Replaced
-The Details, Intrigues and Connivance

By Weekly Insight Newspapers.

The visit of the state Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Idongesit Ntem Isua, to Ikot Ikpene prison on January30, 2014 was part of her yearly routine inspection of prison formations in Akwa Ibom State.
On such visits, the Chief Judge usually extends prerogative of mercy to inmates based on the advice of the state Directorate for Public Prosecution (DPP). The Attorney General, through the DPP determines who should be prosecuted, and also who and when to discontinue prosecution based on the assessment of each case. Incidentally, this year’s release has raised serious questions begging for answers.
At Ikot Ekpene Prison on the said date, alongside other inmates who benefited from the prerogative of mercy, were six policemen awaiting trial for alleged murder of one Mr. Efremfon Abel Sunday in the early hours of August 30, 2013 (at about 2am).

Insp Sunny Tigidam, Sgt Ofonmbuk Okon, CPL Ephraim Joel, PC John Odoh, PC Idubor Osagie and PC Kufre Thomas were released because the PDP had declared on their advice papers endorsed by the Chief Judge, that they had no case to answer.
As soon as they stepped out of the confines of the beautiful prison the news went wild, the father of the deceased, Mr. Abel Sunday, got wind of it and raised alarm over the now controversial circumstances which led to their freedom.
Miffed by the turn of events, Mr. Abel Sunday Akpan, a civil servant who had before now been crying for justice, ran back to his counsel, Samuel Ikpo Esq. whose initial petition led to the arrest of the suspects by the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Gwadabe, on the orders of the Inspector General of Police.
When confronted, Samuel Ikpo lamented that something must have gone wrong if the state can order the release of suspects whose primary constituency, the Nigeria Police Force, did not hesitate to deal with.
While commending the state commissioner of Police, the I. G Mr. M. D. Abubakar and the entire Nigeria police for dealing with the issue swiftly without attempting to protect the policemen, Ikpo explained that whoever is responsible for their release must explain how he or she arrived at the verdict of ‘no case to answer’ after the Police had tried and dismissed the suspects from the force.
The background story to the murder of Mr. Efremfon Abel Sunday, a driver and the first son in a family of ten children (7girls and 3boys) is as intriguing as it is interesting.
On the eve of August 29, 2013, Mr. Efremfon who was married with a son before his violent death, retired for the night, perhaps without premonition about the death lurking in his house.
This paper was informed that a team of policemen from Abak Division led by Insp. Sunday Tigidam invaded the victim’s residence in Ata Ediene Community at about 2am and forcefully gained entry into Efremfon’s rooms.
Claiming to act on an informant’s tip-off, tough struggle ensued as they attempted to arrest the deceased. At that point, neighbours who spoke to this paper on condition that their names should not be disclosed, alleged that the policemen use anything available including the butt of their guns to hit him all over the body consequent upon which he sustained internal injuries as contained in the autopsy report. They also confirmed that the victim’s manhood was pulled, a claim the pathologist who witnessed the autopsy later corroborated in a lengthy conversation with Weekend Insight.

After a long struggle, which alerted neighbours and relatives, they reportedly succeeded in taking him out of his house alive.
They left with Efremfon in the Toyota Hi-lux pick up van with registration number NPF 5123c driven by PC Kufre Thomas.
The brother to the deceased, Mr. Uwakmfon Abel Sunday shadowed the pick up on a Qlink motorcycle with one of the sister, Ikakke Sunday Abel, on the back. To avoid being noticed, they kept a safe distance while turning off the motorcycle’s headlamp.
On the way to Abak Police Station they allegedly stopped to further vent their anger on him, it was at this point that the brother and sister heard the shout of “they have pulled my manhood” many times before silence.
At Abak Police Station, the corpse of Efremfon was left in the back of the pick up outside, while the policemen who went on the operation entered the office, possibly to confer with superior(s) on how to handle the bad situation. Uwakmfon who had parked his motorcycle away from the station then sneaked in, only to feel his brother was now a lifeless body in the police vehicle outside.
At the mercy hospital Morge, the officers made frantic calls to the person in charge (name withheld) who was not around but assured that his apprentice will be sent to attend to them.
Our findings at Mercy Hospital Mortuary revealed a deliberate attempt by the suspects to cover their tract as they claimed on arrival that the victim was involved in an accident, and that they were merely assisting in evacuating his corpse.
When the morgue attendant demanded the identity of the policemen, Sgt Ofonmbuk Okon demoted himself and gave his name as CPL Okon Akpan which he wrote on a piece of paper to the attendant along with his real phone number[withheld]. It was the number which later gave him and his true identity away.
Again, this paper learnt that they claimed to have come from the state police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.
On the strength of the petition dated September 3, 2013 directed to the Inspector General of Police-Mr. M.D. Abubakar, and signed by on Barr. Inimfon Edie in the chambers of Samuel Ikpo and company, Mr. Abubakar had seven days later, in a reply dated Sept. 10, 2013 and signed by one DCP Murtala U. Mani, Principal Staff Officer to the IG, directed the Akwa Ibom State commissioner of police, Mr. U. Gwadabe, to treat the matter.
The policemen were promptly arrested and detained at the state command headquarters as the incident was swiftly investigated. An orderly room trial was conducted and according to several sources at the police headquarters their men were dismissed while their case file was tidied and sent to the DPP for possible prosecution.
By November 11, 2013, the six accused appeared at the Abak magistrate court from where their remand was ordered. However, due to the demolition of the Abak prison building to make way for the new Bridge Constructed by Julius Berger PLC, the inmates including the six accused were transferred to the new Ikot Ekpene prison pending the constitution of a new prison for Abak.
At the AKS Judiciary headquarters, Wellington Bassey Way Uyo, a highly placed source explained that nobody can lay the blame of the suspect’s release on the State Chief Judge Since she lacks the power, on her own, to free anybody from prison custody. The procedure, according to our source who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned, is that the Attorney General as the Chief state prosecutor, through the DPP advices in writing, as in the instant case, about who should be freed and who should not.
Weekend Insight met the Hon. Attorney General, Barr. Ekpenyong Ntekim at the Ministry of Justice headquarters, Idongesit Nkanga secretariat, on Monday February 10, 2014. The Attorney General had promised to speak on the issue the following day at noon.
By the time the whole week ran out without locating the AG, it became clear that the seeming harmless demand on Monday to know if he (the AG) has granted press interview before, may have been a subtle way to point out that he intends to continue the tradition of not responding to enquiries on important state issues, no matter how topical it is.
But our investigations in the ministry of justice uncovered the fact that the embarrassing incident has jolted the top echelon of the ministry. A very dependable source who demanded and extracted assurance that his name will not be disclosed said authoritatively that the Attorney General had on Tuesday February 11, 2014 called for the file and canceled the release advice, ordering the re-arrest of the suspects and their subsequent arraignment within 24 hours, a tall order indeed.
As at the time of filing this report, Weekend Insight could not confirm the arrest or arraignment of any of the suspects. Somehow, recent events in the Ministry of Justice tended to indicate that the issue may claim victims, however remotely connected to the embarrassing incident, they may be.
In fact, as at last Tuesday, there was a minor shake up in the department handling public prosecution as the acting director, was replaced by one Usen.
These changes, our source confided, may not be unconnected to the advice which resulted in freedom for the six accused. The most worrisome aspect of the entire saga is the allegation by Mr. Abel Sunday, who claimed to have reliable information that the wife of one of the suspects sold a parcel of land which proceeds was used in an alleged bribery to secure their freedom.
Counsel to Mr. Abel Sunday, it was learnt, had petitioned the Attorney General on the behavior of the state counsel.
Meanwhile, the village head of Atta Ediene Abak where the Abel’s family hails from Eteidung Okon Thompson Akpan and members of his village council, had harrowing experiences to narrate when this paper visited the Ata Ediene village on Sunday February 16, 2014 as part of the investigation into the murder.
Eteidung Okon Thompson Akpan, who is more than 70 years was arrested alongside other members of his council and detained for more than six days at the state police command headquarters in Uyo.
At Ikot Ikpan Abia, they were brought before the 6 suspects who did not mention any of the arrested members of the village as the source of information which led to the arrest and death of Mr. Efremfon Abel, yet according to them, they were only released on bail after a strongly worded petition addressed to Compol Gwadabe from Nwoko and company, demanding that the police disclose their informant to which they refused.
Apparently their freedom despite the petition, they narrated, was allegedly secured after parting with thousands of naira. The fall out is that the police will now contend with a multimillion naira fundamental rights suit at Abak High Court. The Suit, as stated in the petition signed by one Barr. Utibe Nwoko, also seeks to compel the police to disclose their informant, to save their clients from the wrath of the community. Although the incident which brought the police into the picture was said to have arisen from the community’s electrification project, many respondents to our finding say they did not know him to be a robber, but a very stubborn person.
As the entire situation stands now, even the attempt by the state Ministry of Justice to undo what has already be done may create more legal huddles to surmount.

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