…Police yet to parade suspect -family source
…it’s because victim not from Mrs. Udom’s home -Activist
By Ime Silas
Condemnations have continued to trail what some commentators described as ‘suspicious silence’, ‘show of hypocrisy’, etc, by the Akwa Ibom state government over the gruesome murder of a 22 years old Ephraim Edet Okon.
The late Ephraim, our paper gathered, was confirmed dead at a hospital after he was attacked with an unregistered Lexus car by one Mr. Akpaniko James, last month.
Ephraim had met Akpaniko, his supposed friend on Gibbs Street, Uyo, and stopped by to ask him (Akpaniko) to refund the N30,000 he owed him (Ephraim). Eyewitness accounts have that Akpaniko, who was still on steering, while the car was in parking position, reversed same and returned at high speed and hit Ephraim, where he sustained fatal injuries.
Akpaniko, who is now in police custody, is alleged to have been previously involved in the killing of his secondary school friend at a hotel in Uyo, sometime in 2016.
It was further gathered that the Doctor who was conducting autopsy to ascertain and certify the cause of the boy’s death for diligent prosecution, was reportedly strangled and was found dead, days later at her residence in Osongama; a Housing Estate in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state capital.
A source from the Akwa Ibom state Command of the Nigeria Police Force, Ikot Akpan Akpanabia, who preferred anonymity, told The Profile Newspaper that Mr. Akpaniko was once arrested for impersonating a personnel of the Nigeria Securities and Civil Defense Corps, armed with a rifle.
As at the time of this report, it was not clear how Mr. Akpaniko James escaped being jailed for his past crimes but, his latest victim, Ephraim, was buried last month amidst tears and unceasing calls for justice.
It was further gathered that Akpaniko, after ostensibly escaping justice, was flown abroad. At the Dominican Republic from where he was recently deported, Akpaniko was reportedly involved in drugs-related crimes.
Akwa Ibom state government has yet to issue a statement on Ephraim’s murder.
Reacting, an Activist and Contemporary Affairs’ Commentator, Mr. Gregory Etim, while speaking to our paper on the issue, said he was shocked by Akwa Ibom state government’s silence over the incidence.
“This silence by the Governor of Akwa Ibom state, to say the least, is so suspicious”, Etim, a lawyer had said.
He continued: “To begin with, such a person should not have been allowed to be in the midst of law-abiding citizens. But unfortunately, our justice system gave him the undue freedom and today, he has killed another victim.
“My greatest worry is that the Honourable Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, who had led a protest on the streets of Uyo, when Iniubong Umoren was killed in April by another self-confessed criminal, Uduak Akpan, has not said or done anything on this gruesome murder of Ephraim.
“I think probably, it’s because Iniubong came from Oruk Anam, home of the wife of the Governor of the state, Mrs. Martha Udom Emmanuel; that was why the Commissioner showed concern and keen interest.
Even the Secretary to the State Government and many others showed concern. Is it because Ephraim hails from Nsit Atai, that no one has come up to speak for him?”, Etim queried rhetorically.
While also taking a swipe at Udom-led administration on the matter, a Woman Activist, Mrs. Nyakno Ikpe, who was part of the Candle night and #JusticeForEphraim Processions on the eve of Ephraim’s burial, accused the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare of ‘hypocrisy’.
“When Iniubong was killed, the Women Affairs Commissioner led a protest and did all manner of things. So, why have the government suddenly kept silence on Ephraim’s matter?
When Ephraim’s friends wanted to conduct a candle procession on the eve of his burial, I was part of it. I was shocked to see how the police came to stop it.
Is there anything the government knows in this killing that Akwa Ibom people don’t know. This is a show of hypocrisy and double standard”, Nyakno said.
When contacted to speak on the matter, father to the slain 22 years old Ephraim, Rt. Hon. Edet Okon George declined comments. Edet, a former Councillor and Transition Chairman for Nsit Atai Local Government Council, was apparently psychologically traumatized when our correspondent put a phone call to him.
Mother of the deceased, Mrs. Favour Edet could not also speak, as she was sobbing when the name of her late son was mentioned by our inquiring correspondent.
But a close family member who spoke on anonymous grounds said the police has yet to parade Ephraim’s suspected killer, Akpaniko.
Efforts to get comments from the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Mr. McDon on the matter, was abortive as at press time, as calls to his known telephone number could not connect.