The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, has denied a report linking him to a human organ trafficking syndicate and threatened to sue the journalist who did the report, David Hudeyin.
The former Akwa-Ibom governor and his wife also demanded a public apology and a retraction of Mr Hudeyin’s comments on social media.
The suspect, who the police said have confessed to the crime and is now in police net, had invited the recent UNIUYO graduate for a job interview at the outskirts of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state capital, on April 29.
It was the last heard of the deceased until her corpse was found 48 hours after.
Mr Akpan would be charged to court when ‘striking’ judiciary workers resume work nationwide, the police said.
The Newswire publication suggested a conspiracy between Mr Akpan and other persons suspected to be involved in human organ trafficking.
The report said some might have colluded to kill Ms Umoren while some others might have engaged in a cover-up to free the suspect.
But a police officer so accused, Samuel Ezeugo, and a relation of the murder suspect, Kufre Effiong, whose telephone numbers featured in the report, said the calls were put across to facilitate Mr Akpan’s arrest.
As of the time of this reporting, PREMIUM TIMES could not access the conversation records of the suspect and those he spoke with and was, therefore, unable to determine the culpability or otherwise of the individuals.
Aside from individuals, the report mentioned two corporate entities, an NGO, the Center for Clinical Care and Research (CCCR Nigeria), and a hotel, Davok Suites, as major players in the conspiracy due to their addresses.
“The first is that the Uyo Branch office of an organisation (CCCR Nigeria), which specifically offers “supply chain management of health commodities” may have been commandeered by an illegal organ trafficking ring to feed the booming global black market organ trade. At the lower end of the operation would be Frank Akpan who would specialise in rape and murder of defenceless women so as to harvest their organs for onward delivery to those in charge of the operation.
“The second possibility is more prosaic, but no less horrific. Due to the convoluted house numbering system in Uyo, the property labeled as 58, G Unit, Ewet Housing Estate is also. This would be the ideal location for a trusted associate of a politician – say, a senior civil servant – to lay his head while running a clandestine errand for his boss. An errand such as sourcing human parts for use in a ritual sacrifice ahead of the upcoming election season,” the reporter conjectured.
Mr Hundeyin later claimed the wife of the former Akwa Ibom governor, Ekaette Akpabio, owns the hotel in a social media post.
“It has just come to my attention that Davok Suites, the hotel at the centre of the 58 Unit G/S.9, Unit G, Ewet Housing Estate nexus involving Kufre Effiong ang Frank Uduak Akpan, is owned by none other than Ekaette Akpabio, wife of Godswill Akpabio.
“In other words, this place where Frank Uduak Akpan, fresh from murdering Ini Umoren came to meet Kufre Effiong, belongs to the wife of Kufre’s boss and Federal Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio. So which politician has Kufre been “running errands” for? Right,” he wrote on Twitter.
Both CCCR and Mrs Ekaette had publicly denied any connection to the characters fingered in the Newswire publication.
“Our business is to save lives which we have done creditably over 10 years. We also demand a retraction and apology by NewsWireNGR and Mr. David Hundeyin immediately,” the CCCR statement read.
The former governor’s wife also said; “I do not own Davok Suites. I am not a shareholder. I do not also know who owns Davok Suites neither do I know anybody whose name is Kufre Effiong – who is a staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. Kufre Effiong does not work for my dear husband, Senator GODSWILL AKPABIO.”
However, the Akpabios, through their lawyer, Otobong Inyang, have officially demanded that Mr Hundeyin withdraw his claims or face a legal action.
A copy of the letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES is dated May 12 and addressed to the journalist.
Mr Inyang said the implications of Mr Hudeyin’s publications on Newswire and social media created the impression that the Akpabios were not only complicit in the death of Ms Umoren but also members of a syndicate “specialising in the procurement, sale and/or use of human body parts for ritual.”
“That Davok Suites alleged to be owned by Mrs. Eksete Unoma Akpabio – Senator Akpabio’s wife, is used by members of this alleged syndicate, particularly Uduak Akpan and Kufre Efflong, to carry out their illicit transactions.”
“We hasten to make the point that assuming (though without conceding) that Kufre Effiong is a staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and/or one of its Contractors, Senator Akpabio does not know, has never met and has never had any contact whatsoever with him. Neither Sen. Godswill Akpablo nor his wife Mrs. Ekaete Unoma Axpablo had anything whatsoever to do with the horrific death of Iniubong Umoren.
“Secondly, neither Davok Suites (which is a corporate entity) nor the land housing it belongs to Mrs. Ekaete Unoma Akpablo. Indeed, a proper search at the Corporate Affairs Commission would have disclosed to you that Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpablo is neither one of the Directors nor Shareholders of Davok Suites.”
The attorney, on behalf of his clients, demanded “an immediate retraction, by you, of all your publications and/or parts of them tending to show that our clients are/were complicit in the abduction, rape and gruesome murder of late Iniobong Umoren.
“An immediate retraction, by you, of all your publications and/or parts of them tending to show that our clients are members of a syndicate specializing in the procurement, sale and/or use of human body parts for ritual.”
He said failure to retract and apologise would attract a legal action against the journalist.
“TAKE NOTICE that if you fail to comply with our clients above listed demands within 14 days of your receipt of this letter, we will not hesitate to take out a lawsuit against you and all concerned.”
However, acknowledging the receipt of the letter, Mr Hundeyin challenged the Niger Delta affairs minister to “feel free to sue”.
“Hi @Senator_Akpabio, this has come to my attention. First of all, no idea why the lawyer you hired addressed it to BusinessDay as if I work there🤷🏿♂️
“Second, please feel free to sue. Thanks,” the journalist wrote on Twitter.