INTERIM REPORTS/ PRESS STATEMENT OF THE CIVIL LIBERTIES ORGANISATION (CLO) ON THE DEATH OF MRS. DEBORAH NKEREUWEM NKPENIE

The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) Akwa Ibom State Branch at about 19:00 hours on Tuesday, 21st January, 2020, received a report that one Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Nkpenie was reportedly beaten to death by one Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe said to be attached to the anti-cultism unit of the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo. The report stated that the incident happened on Thursday, 16th January, 2020 at the premises of the State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo.

MEETING WITH THE POLICE AUTHORITIES:
On Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020, at about 14:00 hours, a three-man fact finding team of the CLO, to wit: Otuekong Franklyn Isong, Barr. Christopher Ekpo, and Barr. Eyibio Okon visited the State Police Headquarters with respect to the incident. The CLO team held a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of the SCID, Mrs. S.U. Horsefall, and the Officer in-charge of the Legal Department, DSP Kingsley Achabo.

CONTACT WITH FAMILY:
On Wednesday, 22nd January, 2020 at about 16:19 hours, the CLO team called one Mr. Godwin Udofia, a member of the deceased family, on phone. He did not pick his call but later returned the call at about 16:20 hours and spoke with the CLO team for about 2 minutes 6 seconds. Mr. Udofia refused to comment on the incident. His reasons were that members of the deceased family were in a meeting in the village with respect to the incident and that their lawyer had warned them not to speak to anybody directly or indirectly on the matter.

OTHER CONTACTS:
On Thursday, 23rd January, 2020 at about 17:10 hours, the CLO team met with Mr. Ime Silas, one of the reporters who posted reports of the incident on his Facebook timeline. The meeting was at the instance of the CLO fact finding team and it held at the CLO’s office in Uyo. Mr. Silas affirmed his online publications. He said the photographs he published on social media with respect to the incident were personally taken by him with his mobile phones. He told the CLO team that he took those pictures at the gate of the Police Headquarters as the tricycle that conveyed the remains of the deceased was not allowed to drive into the premises of the Police Headquarters.

FINDINGS:
1. CLO observes that there are two versions to the actual cause of death of Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Nkpenie and where she died. One version is that Mrs. Deborah Nkpenie died within the premises of the state police headquarters after being assaulted by Inspector Bassey Ikpe inside a tricycle, before she was taken to the Police Clinic where she was confirmed death. The other version is that Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Nkpenie did not go to the police headquarters on the day she died but that she died in a hospital elsewhere and her family members then took her remains in a tricycle to the gate of the police headquarters and tried to force themselves into the premises.

2. CLO’s visit to the police revealed that the case against the deceased was civil in nature. CLO observed that Inspector Bassey Ikpe reportedly acted unilaterally as he neither registered the case and the charge thereof nor obtained official approval for investigation of the matter by the police authorities in the Akwa Ibom State Command.

3. Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe, who is now in police detention, took the matter and investigated it up to the point of filing an unapproved charge against the deceased at the Magistrate’s Court, Uyo.

4. It was also revealed that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in-charge of the State CID, where the Anti-cultism Unit situates, Mrs. S. U. Horsefall, had no knowledge of the case until a day before the death of the deceased, after a member of the deceased family approached her on the matter and the DCP on seeing the health condition of the deceased, whom she was told was brought back from the court by Inspector Bassey Ikpe, immediately ordered Inspector Ikpe to release the deceased quickly to go home and directed Inspector Ikpe to invite all parties in the matter to an interview in her office by 10:00 hours the next day.

5. On the next day, contrary to the DCP’s directive, while the deceased family were at the DCP’s office, the complainants were said to be waiting at the Magistrate’s Court, Uyo, allegedly on the orders of Inspector Ikpe. Hence, the interview with the DCP could not hold before the sad news of the death of Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Nkpenie got to the police authorities.

OUR POSITION:
CLO as an international human rights organisation is interested in knowing the immediate and remote cause of the death of Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Nkpenie, and where she died.

CLO is aware that the State Commissioner of Police has ordered an investigation into the matter and that Inspector Bassey Ikpe has been arrested and detained in the State Police Headquarters.

CLO demands that the investigation should be very thorough in order to ensure that justice is not just done but seen to have been done in the matter.

Meanwhile, in this interim report, CLO commends the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police in-charge of the State CID, Mrs. S. U. Horsefall, for their prompt intervention in the matter.

Dated this Friday the 24th day of January, 2020.

Signed:
Civil Liberties Organisation, Akwa Ibom State Branch

Otuekong Franklyn Isong
(Chairman, AKS CLO)

Comrade Christopher Ekpo, Esq.
(Secretary)

Comrade Eyibio Okon, Esq.

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