The Department of State Security (DSS) has submitted a detailed report of fresh investigation into the murder of the jobseeker, Iniubong Umoren, to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Akwa Ibom State, The Next Edition investigation has revealed.
We also found out that the self-confessed killer, Uduak Akpan, his father, Frank Akpan and his accomplice, Emem Emmanuel were grilled for several days in a DSS facility in Uyo.
This newspaper had in two separate investigative reports raised serious doubts on credibility of the investigation carried out by the Akwa Ibom State Police command into the highly disturbing murder of Miss Umoren.
In the first report, we had found uncontroverted evidence that the police not only compromised their investigation into the crime but also deliberately left the crime scene open and allowed unknown persons to invade it and destroy loads of critical evidence.
That report also exposed the litany of brazen lies told by both the state Police Commissioner, Andrew Amiengheme and Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon to cover up many aspects of the crime.
In the second report, The Next Edition had confronted the Akwa Ibom State Police command to prove that Mr. Emmanuel, who first contacted Miss Umoren and later linked her up with Mr. Akpan, was not indeed an accomplice to the crime.
Unable to sustain its denial, the command made a U-turn and admitted that he aided and abated the crime and that the trio of Mr. Akapn, his father and Mr. Emmanuel had been moved to Ikot Ekpene Correctional Centre.
But in this new investigation, The Next Edition found out that shortly after the accused persons were moved to the Correctional Centre, the DSS swung into action and effected their transfer to their headquarters in Uyo.
The three accused persons were kept in DSS custody for close to two weeks and grilled in a new investigation which is said to have revealed much more than the police admitted.
A top security source told this newspaper that the fresh investigation by the DSS was prompted by public outrage and The Next Edition’s report that exposed the lies and unprofessional conduct by the police.
“It was disheartening to see how the investigation was being handled and you could feel the anger and frustration in the way the public reacted to what was going on,” the source said.
“What you guys reported further showed that the investigation they (police) conducted left a lot to be desired. For instance, why did they lie about the minutest issue as to where the corpse of the poor girl was taken to after it was exhumed? Why did they have to lie about that?
“That was why not long after they (accused persons) were transferred to the correctional centre, an action was initiated and they were transferred back to Uyo for a fresh investigation.
“A lot of new findings have been made but I am not in the position to tell you what those findings are. But I can confirm that the report has already been forwarded to the director of public prosecution for further action.
“I can also assure you that the new report will change a lot of things about the case going forward.”
While the DSS is said to have forwarded its report to the DPP last week, checks by this newspaper showed that the case is yet to be filed.
Checks at the High Court Process Section located along Metro Road, Off Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo Metropolis showed that the case file was yet to be forwarded there for necessary action.
Those who know about the matter at the state judiciary headquarters attributed the delay to the ongoing preparations for the retirement of the state Chief Judge, Justice Godwin Abraham.
We also learnt that the Administrative Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot, who would have ordered the processing and assignment of the case, is involved in the process of taking over from the retiring chief judge.
In the hierarchy of judges in the state, Justice Obot is said to be the second to Justice Abraham and sits in the Akwa Ibom State High Court No. 2 in Uyo.
With the handing over which is expected to take place next week, Justice Obot will move to High Court No.1 after being cleared by the state house of assembly and sworn in by the Governor, Udom Emmanuel.
When contacted on the phone, the state Commissioner for Justice, Uko Udom, confirmed that the DSS has submitted its report to the ministry.
Mr. Udom, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), however, said that the case has not yet been filed, adding that the public will be made aware when it is finally filed.
“I cannot say anything about the content of the report but I can tell you that the case has not been filed yet. I can also tell you that it will be filed soon but I cannot say when,” the commissioner told The Next Edition.
The state Commissioner for Information, Ini Ememobong, however, told one of our correspondents that the state government will do everything in its power to ensure that the case is diligently prosecuted.
“Akwa Ibom State Government has been following the case very keenly and will ensure that justice is done.
“Right after the incident happened the governor had directed the relevant officials of the government to follow-up and ensure a proper investigation is carried out and the case is diligently prosecuted.
“I can tell you that the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice is working with relevant security agencies and the case will be filed very soon,” Mr. Ememobong said.
Akwa Ibom civil society goes mum
Since the story of the distress of Miss Umoren broke out on social media on April 29, 2021 and her subsequent assault, rape and murder, which elicited national outrage, the civil society in Akwa Ibom has gone to sleep.
While some of the activists joined a face-saving protest march which was coordinated by the state government and led by the Wife of the Governor, Martha Emmanuel, not a single organisation has followed up on the case.
The Next Edition had put a call to many leaders of civil society groups. While some did not pick their calls, those who picked declined to speak on the matter.
However, an Uyo-based legal practitioner, Imo Akpan, a principal partner at Cardinalli Chambers & Co, said the investigation carried out by the state police command left more to be desired.
Mr. Akpan said the fresh investigation by the DSS might have been triggered by the painstaking report by The Next Edition newspaper which exposed the glaring cover ups and what the paper termed “deliberate compromise” by the police.
He argued that there were so many inconsistencies and loose ends in the investigation the police carried out, adding that the non-invitation of vital witnesses mentioned in the series of events leading to the arrest of Mr. Akpan, was questionable.
“What apparently informed the DSS investigation was the detailed and painstaking report by The Next Edition which exposed the glaring cover ups and what the paper termed ‘deliberate compromise’ by the Akwa Ibom State Police Command.
“The report also exposed the involvement of one Emem Emmanuel as an accomplice to the crime. From information we have, Mr. Emmanuel is expected to be arraigned alongside Uduak Akpan and the father anytime from now,” Mr. Akpan said.
Against standard global practice, the legal practitioner said the police failed to protect the crime scene, thereby allowing unknown persons to invade and destroy critical evidence and other probable leads.
“It has always been my view that there needed to be a more robust investigation into the crime and that’s why some of us lent our voices in support of the call by Hon. Unyime Idem and the subsequent resolution of the House of Representatives for the Inspector General of Police to take over and continue the investigation.
“Thankfully, after The Next Edition’s report, the DSS has taken another look at the investigation, so it is hoped that a thorough job has been done.
“But there seems to be a lull in the clamour by citizens for justice to be done for the slain Iniubong Umoren and that is probably because many think the case may be swept under the carpet.