The attorney general and commissioner for justice in Akwa Ibom, Uwemedimo Nwoko, says the police have refused to release an officer who helped dispose a murder victim to face trial.
Mr Nwoko has been putting pressure on police authority in the state to release one of their officers to stand trial over the murder case.
He told PREMIUM TIMES December 19 that the officer did not kill the victim, a young girl, but only assisted the suspect to dispose of the corpse.
Mr Nwoko mentioned the case while he was responding to an inquiry from PREMIUM TIMES on a different case – the killing of an entertainer in November allegedly by a police officer at a traditional marriage in Nsit Ubium.
He did not provide details of the case, including the name of the officer and others involved.
“As I am talking to you now, there is a matter in which a policeman was involved, he was not the person that killed the girl but he assisted to dispose of the corpse.
“I have charged the matter to court in Etinan High Court. But the police have refused to release the guy to come and face trial. I have done a formal letter reminding them that I need that guy in court,” the attorney general said, apparently to buttress his point that the Akwa Ibom government would not cover up for any police officer involved in any killing in the state.
“They (the police) said that the guy was undergoing orderly room trial, I said it doesn’t affect me, I have a murder charge against him in court, send him to us and immediately.
“So that is how I pursue my thing,” he said.
Mr Nwoko said he has convicted four police officers in the state for shooting dead a commercial motorcyclist, otherwise known as okada.
“The four of them were on a patrol, they shot dead an okada. I took over the matter and got them convicted. I have convicted a gang of six kidnappers, two of them policemen,” he said.
The attorney general explained what could be done in the case of the slain entertainer.
“Normally when a thing like that happens, the victim’s family or other people that are interested would pursue the police, write a petition to the commissioner of police or the inspector general or the AIG and say this person was killed in indefensible circumstances and then call for investigation.
“If the police refuse to investigate, call in civil society organisations to demand an investigation and, of course, they would generate the heat and the police would investigate.
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“It is after investigation that the matter now comes to the office of the attorney general and I will prosecute,” he said.
“Let the family of the deceased raise a petition. If I have a petition on my table as attorney general, copied to me, I will write to the police that I have received this kind of complaint, please investigate it and let us have a report.
“Since that incident happened I have not heard anything about it till today. I have been told that it wasn’t even the policemen in the governor’s convoy that did that.
“I felt quite sad, I see no reason why whosoever was responsible should not be prosecuted.”
The police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom, Nnudam Fredrick, however, said it is a standard procedure within the police to have an administrative trial, otherwise known as orderly room trial, before letting an officer to be prosecuted in court for an alleged crime.
PREMIUM TIMES could not ascertain the status of the case mentioned by Mr Nwoko, as the attorney general did not respond to phone calls from this newspaper as at Friday afternoon.