A civil servant, Kufre Effiong, alleged to have been a part of the syndicate that murdered Iniobong Umoren, a job seeker in Akwa-Ibom State, has denied any involvement in the said crime.
The denial comes after one David Hundeyin, a journalist had reported that Effiong, a cousin to the prime suspect, Uduak Akpan, had knowledge of the crime, alleging he is part of a syndicate that deal in human parts.
In the report that had earlier gone viral, Hundeyin also accused the Akwa Ibom Police Command of trying to cover up the murder of Umoren because it was carried out by a well-connected criminal gang.
In his rebuttal, Effiong, who is said to be a senior civil servant working at the Niger Delta Ministry maintained he facilitated the arrest of the suspect and condemned the report that has labelled him a criminal.
He narrated the event leading to the arrest of the suspect as thus: “On Friday, April 30, around 2 pm, I was called by my father who lives in Lagos, asking whether I have seen a trending article on the social media linking Uduak (who is my cousin) with a kidnap case. Not long afterward, another cousin of mine who is incidentally the Chairman of Uruan Local Government Council called to intimate me on the same social media circulation and requested me to come to his house as Uduak’s father, Mr. Frank Akpan has been reportedly arrested on account that the son, Uduak has absconded.
“On arrival at the Chairman’s house, he told me that he was concerned that the arrested old man was sick and needed medication since he did not carry his drugs to the Police station.
According to the Chairman, some kinsmen were calling seeking his intervention to explore the possibility of allowing the old man access to his medications. I was still at the Chairman’s house discussing Mr. Frank Akpan’s case when in the presence of the DPO who had a meeting with the Chairman and another DSP, Uduak called my phone asking if I knew where his father was.
“Initially, I was upset with Uduak for asking me the whereabouts of his father and immediately signaled the DPO that Uduak was the person who called and somehow, I managed to find the composure telling him that I was seeing the trending social media news involving him. Then Uduak said he had no credit and requested me to call him. Obliging to this his request, I called him back asking where he was and he replied that he was at Oron.
“Further asking about the missing girl, Uduak claimed that he lost contact with the girl when she got to Ibiaku, stating that he has neither seen nor heard from her since then. He practically claimed to be innocent. At that point, I encouraged him to turn himself in by going to the Idu Police Division to clear himself so his father can be released to go and take his drugs or that I can link him up with the DPO who is closed to us.
“I forwarded the DPO’s phone number to Uduak. It was not long afterwards when Uduak called the DPO who encouraged him to come out, assuring him that he could personally come to the Shelter Afrique Junction to pick him up on arrival. While there all waiting and praying that the suspect does not change his mind, Uduak called the DPO informing him that he has arrived Shelter Afrique Junction.
“The DPO then suggested that he will not go with his car to pick him so he does not panic and react adversely on sighting his car which has tinted glass. Rather, he requested that I drove him to the location and thus, accompanied by the DSP, I drove the DPO in my car to Shelter Afrique Junction where the suspect was picked up by the DPO. Meanwhile, before we moved out, the Council Chairman had instructed that the suspect be taken to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit directly but the DPO advised that he should first be taken Chairman’s house to calmed him down and encourage him to cooperate with the Police and thus, the suspect was taken to Ewet Housing.
“At Ewet Housing, the suspect still denied knowing the whereabouts of the deceased, maintaining that he last heard from her when she said she has got to Ibiaku Junction but when we pressure him further, the suspect requested that he needed audience with the Chairman and myself alone. So, we took him in urging him to tell us the truth to enable us assist him where necessary. It was at that point that Uduak mentioned for the first time that the missing young lady actually got to his house.
“On hearing that, I could not find any emotional intelligence or coordination other than to ask and I asked straight, “is she alive?” Uduak started crying and shook his head to indicate that she was no more. At that point, I lost it completely and almost fainted but managed to give him few slaps. I became completely distraught, devastated, incensed and confused at the same time.
“I was wailing like a woman who has just lost all and so was the Chairman. With that mixed frustration and infuriation, we quickly handed the suspect back to the DPO to take to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit and this, we did without any second thought, telling the DPO that we had washed our hands off the matter and would not wish to be associated with it.”
He continued: “Accordingly, the suspect was taken to Police custody where interrogations and thorough investigations are being carried out by the Police and the sister law enforcement agencies. I have no doubt that the suspect would have made useful statements to the Police to guide their further actions on the matter.
“Unfortunately, social media has been overflowing with so many damaging publications trying to link me up with the crime and further extending it beyond the specific incidence of Late Ms Umoren to an atrocious trade on human parts. Well, I want to state that I do not know about the suspect’s activities since he never lived or grew up with me. My role in the entire case is as stated and remains verifiably so.
“Voluntarily on my own, I have made a statement to the Police on record and they are fully aware of my role in the case. I have also assured them of my cooperation whenever and wherever I may necessarily be called upon. As a human, I am deeply saddened and devastated by the turn out of event as all the three of us namely the DPO, the Council Chairman and myself who facilitated the arrest of the suspect are now facing false, malicious and damaging media attack trying desperately to link us with the offense in respect of which we made lots of sacrifices to ensure the suspect got into the Police net where he is currently being detained, interrogated and investigated.”
Effiong added that he has been receiving threat messages from some over-zealous individuals who have labeled him a trader on human parts, saying people who have lost a friend or family member to kidnap cases, view him as the culprit.
He said he is no longer safe walking the street, “I am consoled that the suspect is in lawful custody and will be prosecuted in line with the law of our land. So, if this is the price I have to pay for bringing the murderer of my sister from another mother to face the law, I embrace this very heavy burden and trust that both time and God will be kind enough to redeem my image so misguidedly tarnished.
“My only regret is that there is no absolute reparation and replacement for the tender life so heartlessly and callously terminated at its prime stage. I commiserate with family and friends of the dearly departed and hope that justice will be done in the matter,” he said.
Effiong challenged anyone or group of persons with evidence linking him or anyone else with the criminal act of Uduak Frank Akpan, to freely approach the Police authority with such information rather than engage in speculative allegations aimed at constituting media trials
However, it was learnt that the report by David Hundeyin has been deleted.