The family of the slain Akwa Ibom chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Albert Ukpanah, has accused Governor Godswill Akpabio of attempting to distort facts of the murder and the continued imprisonment of his only son, Odudu.
The eldest daughter of the deceased politician, Uduak Ukpanah, on Friday described statements credited to the governor on circumstances of her father’s killing and subsequent arrest and imprisonment of the only son without trial as “grave allegations, insinuations, half-truths and naked lies.”
Miss Ukpanah, a lawyer, rejected the governor’s criticism of the ongoing campaign by a Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, in the state to secure the release of the young Ukpanah, imprisoned ostensibly on the governor’s orders allegedly for being the mastermind of his father’s murder last year.
Speaking on Tuesday in Uyo during the inauguration of the PDP Gubernatorial Campaign Council and swearing in of the new state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, the governor is said to have claimed, among others, that he gave the deceased N2 million two days before he was assassinated in his private residence in Abak on March 12, 2014.
The governor, who said the money was to assist the late politician in treating his wife of cancer, also accused the son, Odudu, of abandoning his father when the assassins visited.
After the murder, the governor said the accused not only failed to raise an alarm, but did not report the incident to the police until four days later.
The governor had also accused young Ukpanah of taking his father’s corpse to a private morgue, instead of a government-owned hospital.
He also accused him of washing off his father’s blood stains on the floor after the murder before the arrival of the police and also breaking the door to his father’s bed room immediately after the incident.
Noting that they were compelled to react to the governor’s claims, despite that the case was pending in court, the family said the fundamental right of the accused to be presumed innocent until proved guilty as guaranteed by Section 36(5) of the Constitution deserves to be preserved and protected.
The governor, the family pointed out, contradicted himself on the controversial N2million gift when he claimed initially during the burial of the deceased that he gave the money on the very day of the murder, only to say on Tuesday that the late politician had visited him that “Tuesday, two days before he was murdered,,”
Apart from giving N2million, the governor also claimed he asked the late Mr. Ukpanah to “come back on Thursday so that he will arrange for his wife to be flown abroad for treatment.”
“The deceased was murdered on Wednesday 12th March, 2014, not on a ‘Tuesday’, the family stated. “Which of the two inconsistent statements should we take? Could such fatal and material contradiction be inadvertent, or an indication that someone is lying?”
According to the family, there was no evidence that the deceased received any money any day as alleged by the governor, saying they reject such claims in its entirety, as the deceased was not bankrupt before his death.
On the allegation that the accused did not call for help after his father’s murder, the family said Odudu had raised an alarm on coming out to meet his father in a pool of his blood, saying neighbours, including the principal witness in the case, had confirmed that when the case came up in court on December 15, 2014.
On claims that the accused did not report the incident to the police on time, the family said after the murder on March 12, 2014 at about 11 p.m, Odudu, on returning from the hospital at about 2 a.m. the following day went to the Abak Divisional Police Station and reported the matter.
It was on the basis of the report, the family said, that he crime investigation officers from the police station visited in the morning to take pictures of the deceased and clearing the leftover of items served his guests.
The Convener of COHRD, Inibehe Effiong, who also signed the statement, disputed the governor’s comparison of late Ukpanah’s murder with other cases involving parents killed by their children to justify the continued imprisonment of Odudu Ukpanah, saying the rising crime rate in the state could only be linked with bad governance.
Mr. Effiong, who used the opportunity to restate their demand for the immediate release of the accused from prison, wondered why similar mentions were not made by the governor of the many cases of politically motivated killings in the state since 2007 under his administration.
“If governor Akpabio believes that Odudu killed his father, does he also believe that Edidem Robert Obot (a Paramount Ruler), Mrs. Udonwa (mother of a former governorship aspirant), the Ekpenyong brothers, Obong Paul Usoro (a former Vice Chairman South-South of PDP), and many other victims of assassination were murdered by their children?” the rights activist asked.
“Is it not true that the deceased, just like the other victims, held strong dissenting views particularly pertaining to the 2015 elections in the state?”