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Published On: Tue, Dec 23rd, 2014

Injustice taken too far

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By Indibehe Effiong

Citizen Odudu Albert Ukpanah is the only son of the late Engr. Albert Jimmy Ukpanah from Ukanafun local government area of AkwaIbom state. Odudu, 31, a brilliant and peace loving man, holds a B. Sc. in geophysics from the University of Calabar and an M. Sc. from Coventry University in the United Kingdom. The late Albert Ukpanah was an outspoken chieftain of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He had served his party as a member of the Working Committee of the PDP in AkwaIbom state. He was also a caretaker vice chairman of Ukanafun LGA.

Notably, aside from being a thorn in the flesh of some prominent politicians and political office holders in his area, the late Engr. Albert Ukpanah was a vociferous opponent of the 2015 senatorial ambition of Governor GodswillObotAkpabio. Like several other persons in his area that subscribe to the PDP zoning policy, he believed that it was the turn of his area (Abak Federal Constituency) to produce the next senator to represent the IkotEkpene senatorial district come 2015. He saw Akpabio’s Senate bid as a grave injustice to his people.

On Wednesday, March 12, 2014, he was brutally murdered by dare-devil assassins at his Abak residence at about 9:40pm. From the cogent, uncontradicted and plausible account given by the immediate family of the slain politician, the deceased had asked his son, Odudu, who was the only person with him at the material time, to bring three plastic chairs for himself and yet to be identified visitors that he was expecting.

After bringing out the chairs as directed, Odudu went into the living room and continued watching an English Premier League match on television which he was enjoying prior to the arrival of the visitors. His father later came into the living room and took drink which he offered his guests. Upon sensing that the expected meeting had lasted for too long, Odudu went out to check on his father only to see him lifeless in a pool of his blood.

Odudu immediately raised an alarm and sought the assistance of neighbours who came to his aid. They then helped him carry his father’s body to the hospital where he was pronounced dead by doctors. He made a report to the police division the following morning.

While it is true that the police officers from the State Command did not meet him at home when they first arrived the scene, it does not imply that he escaped. It was his that aunt had taken him away to safety. Let me also state that when the police officers from Abak arrived the scene, they saw the bottle of the Remy martins and the container of the can stout which they took away. Photographs evidencing this are there for all to see.

An investigation into the incident was taken over by the State Police Command which resulted in the production of a Police Investigation Report signed by one Sgt. IbediroNnamdi, the Investigating Police Officer, (IPO), which was leaked to the media and published in several newspapers, I have the report with me

I need to also mention that in furtherance of its investigation into this case, the police had seized the GSM phone of the late Albert Ukpanah with an undertaking that same would be forwarded to the State Security Service (SSS) for forensic analysis since the deceased is believed to had communicated on phone with his yet to be identified guests before their arrival.

Till date, nothing has been heard of the result of the said forensic analysis by the SSS. Nigerians should ask the AkwaIbom State Government, the SSS and the police about the outcome of the forensic analysis. A check with service providers would have revealed the call logs of the deceased shortly before he was murdered.

Instead of identifying the ‘REAL KILLERS’ of Albert Ukpanah as recommended by the IPO, the AkwaIbom state government had his only son, Odudu Ukpanah, framed up, arrested and charged to court on a trumped up charge of killing his own father.

A careful perusal of the proof of evidence filed alongside the information (charge) by the prosecution leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the paper on which the charge was preferred, have a far more value than the charge itself. There is absolutely no modicum of evidence, not even impliedly, establishing a nexus (link) between Odudu and the death of his father. It is just an audacious but shameless charade meant to cover the truth.

Those listed as witnesses are basically neighbours who responded to the alarm raised by Odudu. One even said in court during his testimony that he did not know why he was in court but later recalled that he was summoned to testify because he had made a statement to the police; a statement that did not incriminate Odudu in any way.

What on earth will make a young and very comfortable first and only son of an influential father think of taking the life of the man that meant the world to him? Why should Odudu kill the very father that sponsored his education abroad and bought him a car upon his return to Nigeria last year? Why?

As part of their investigation, the police had invited a carpenter to make a statement on what transpired which he did. Remarkably, the carpenter’s statement was discarded. The innocent Odudu Ukpanah has been in custody for the past seven months while the state continue to play hide and seek with the case. So far, efforts to admit him to bail have not seen fruition. On Monday December 15th, 2014 the court adjourned ruling on his bail application to January 7th, 2014.

The mother of Odudu is now critically ill with cancer. The family have expended all they have on litigation all in a bid to secure the release of the poor young man who they know is completely and totally innocent of the charge against him.

I am appealing to our friends and partners in the civil society, human rights community and the media to rise up to this very historic battle for justice. I appeal to human rights lawyers, activists, journalists all lovers of justice in this country to come to the rescue of this family. We have done it before, let’s do it again. This is an injustice of the century.

Effiong, is a human rights activist based in Lagos (inibehe.effiong@gmail.com)

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