By Ekemini Simon
More revelations have surfaced after the death of fresh university graduate, Kubiat Akpan in police custody in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Kubiat Akpan,28, a graduate of Architecture from the University of Uyo, was awaiting his mobilization for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, before his arrest in Uyo by a team of police officers led by one ASP Micheal Joweigha.
The deceased was allegedly tortured to death by the officers while in custody, even as the autopsy result confirmed that late Kubiat had brain injuries and could not have survived the merciless beatings by the police.
Yet, the Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon had earlier in a statement said that Kubiat had complained of an ill health while in custody and was taken to a police clinic where he died, adding that the Commissioner ordered the arrest of ASP Joweigha.
However, speaking through their lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, during a press conference held in Uyo, on Wednesday, the deceased family revealed that after the police may have alledgedly tortured Akpan to death, they took his corpse to the mortuary and dumped it as an unknown corpse.
“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.
The family representative pointed out that the officers who took the corpse to the mortuary also refused to identify themselves.
Effiong who said that the action by the police coupled with other information within the disposal of the family points to the fact that the police had wanted to secretly dispose of Akpan’s corpse after torturing him to death if not a phone call from the aunt.
The lawyer narrated that when Akpan was picked up by the police at a popular sit out, Eni Stores, in Uyo, around 8p.m., he made a phone call to his aunt, telling her of his arrest.
Effiong noted that the aunt, who knows the officer that heads the Ewet Housing division which arrested Mr Akpan, called the officer, Daniel Akpan, a deputy superintendent of police, and requested him to look after Akpan as she would be coming over to the station in the morning.
He added ” If not for that one call, because we are reliable informed that they (the police) are now regretting that they allowed him (the late Akpan) 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”.
Effiong who played footage from the CCTV camera at Eni Stores to Journalists revealed how many armed police officers stormed the store to arrest the late student.
Commenting on the footage, the lawyer insisted that it was clear that ASP Joweigha was not alone in the act that led to the death of the student.
He maintained that the ASP could not have tortured Akpan alone to death rather several officers tortured the student to death. Effiong together with the family called on the police authorities to investigate and bring to justice all the officers who were involved in the incident.
The family also called for the suspension of the head of the police division which arrested Akpan, stressing that their demand is to give room for an unhindered investigation.
Commenting on the claims by the police that Akpan was arrested after evading arrest in a robbery case, Effiong challenged the police to mention the robbery incident that they claimed the student was involved in. He insisted that the police should mention who lodged a report against him adding that the police should also come public on whether they had ever gone to look for the student at his department in the university or ask his parents to turn him in for questioning.
A Civil Society Organization (CSO), Youth Alive Foundation which organized the press briefing with support from other CSO expressed concern that 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 Akpan would be framed up, arrested, tortured and disposed by the men of the police paid with their tax to protect them from harm.
In their position presented by the Programs Lead, Youth Alive Foundation, Akwa Ibom State, Joe Otu he noted that
it is a sad narrative that the sanctity of human life has lost its meaning to policemen and it is more heartbreaking when the Government looks the other way whereas it should take the driver seat in uncovering these crimes and ensuring that its culprits are expeditiously brought to book.
While commending the State Governor over the Peace maintenance campaigns across the State, the organization maintained that it is their collective opinion that peace cannot be maintained
when citizens are ably harvested from the streets and tortured to death.
They added ” From the foregoing, Youth Allve Foundation, the family of the deceased, community stakeholders, civil
societies, Student groups, professionals, corporate bodies, the academia and entrepreneurs demand that the Government must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch by leading an Open investigation of the circumstances of the arrest of Kubiat Isaac Akpan as well as the series of events which followed his arrest up to the point of his death.
“It is our position that for justice to be done, the truth must be revealed and the culprits no matter how highly placed must be brought to book, for justice in this case must not just be done but must be seen by all as done.
“We can take steps and make reforms to combat police violence within our law enforcement by placing common sense limits on police use of force. Together, we can work to redefine public safety so that it recognizes the humanity and dignity of every Person.
“We pray that God grants our Governor, the wisdom, the understanding, the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour”.