A 23-year old man is currently battling with the possibility of losing both legs as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the hands of trigger-hungry security details attached to the Akwa Ibom state first lady, Mrs. Ekaette Unoma Akpabio.
The young man, Abasiema Sunday Peters, in company of his friend and three other female occupants of the vehicle he was driving was returning from a traditional marriage ceremony in Abak on Saturday July 16, 2011, when they heard the blaring sirens of the first lady’s convoy.
Abasiema told Weekend Insight in a hospital bed at the Ikot Ekpene General Hospital that as soon as he heard the siren, he veered from the speed lane into the service lane. He said he also tried to slow down his vehicle but noticed that the brake system did not respond. He then sped off looking for a possible exit to get away from the fast racing convoy, who were by this time firing severally into the air.
He stated that he was able to make it into Library Avenue in Ikot Ekpene where the vehicle came to a stop.
On alighting from the vehicle, he informed our reporter that he pleaded with the security aides who had stopped by the side of his now stationary vehicle, that he had difficulties stopping his car and that was why he could not slow down and stop.
“One of the officers just cocked his riffle and fired two shots each on each of my legs. They thereafter bundled all of us into their vehicle and first took us to the police station in Ikot Ekpene, where I spent some hours bleeding and pleading that they should take me to a hospital. I was then brought here and chained to the bed with a policeman guarding me”, Abasiema informed Weekend Insight.
The paper learnt that the other occupants of the car were later taken to the Ikot Akpan Abia police headquarters for further investigations. They were held till evening of Wednesday July 19, 2011, when they were released after they were made to cough out the sum of twenty five thousand naira each.
To this end, the counsel representing the victim, Ifiok W. Obot of the Ifiok Obot and Associates, situates along Ibong Road, Ikot Ekpene in a petition tagged, “Appeal for urgent prosecution of police men who shot Abasiama Sunday Peters on 16th July, 2011 at Ikot Ekpene” and addressed to the Inspector General of police (IGP) Mr. Hazfiz Ringin, noted with dismay the manar with which his client (Peters) was brutally shot at on the two legs even after he had explained the circumstance that permitted his action.
The Six paragraphs petition accused the police of planning a cover up to their nefarious crime saying that his client at the instance was without arms or ammunition and wondered why a harmless person would have attempted to kidnap or kill the wife of the Governor.
He in the leagued gentleman said, Peter was with, “five other occupants who are being detained at the police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, since 16th July, 2011”.
Hear him, “at the time of the shooting our client had alighted from the car he was driving and it may be relevant to point out that since our client had alighted from his car, the police ought to have arrested him if he had broken any law; rather maiming our client by shooting him at point blank range on his two feet (legs) “Sir” he continues, inside (Mr. Peters) car at the time of the shooting were five occupant currently in detention at the police headquarters.
(Therefore) I feel it is pertinent to inform you that these policemen wrongly informed the Governor His Excellency Chief Dr. Godswill Obot Akpabio that our client attempted to assassinate or kidnap his wife –the first lady, a fact which is false” Obot stressed in the petition.
The lawyer frowned at the police ploy to slam his client with a false charge of attempted murder and kidnapping in order to cover up their misdeeds pleading with the IGP to come to his client’s aid saying, “in the circumstances of his case, I am afraid our client will not have a fair hearing”, he wrote.
Concluding Barrister Obot said “in the light of the foregoing and in the interest of justice, we implore you to cause an independent investigation into this matter with a view to bringing these trigger-happy policemen to justice”.
Speaking further to Weekend Insight on the matter the victim’s council, Mr. Obot, noted that such a fragrant display of lawlessness was contrary to any known tenet of democracy. He added that what happened to his client could happen to any other person if not adequately tackled. He wondered how a trained police officer could shoot a defenceless and unarmed person, even when such a person had been arrested, assuming he had committed any offence.
Reactig to the incident, the Akwa Ibom state commissioner for Information said the matter was a security matter and is being attended to by the police. He said that the police is investigating the whole incident including the shooting with a view to ascertaining all the sides to the incident. He noted that he was informed by the security agencies that the victim’s car was driving dangerously close to the first lady’s car carrying her and all her children. He said the security aides must have acted to avert any security situation that they could be blamed after if they did not act. He assured that the incident would be thoroughly investigated.
Weekend Insight placed a call through to the police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Onyeka Orji who informed that he was aware of the incident but said he had not gotten details of it.
He told our reporter on the phone, “I don’t have the detail. I know that there was an incident (but) I don’t know that the police shot someone. But I know that there was an incident involving the convoy of the wife of the governor.
“As soon as I get to the office tomorrow (Today) and have details of the case, l’ll let you know. We’re investigating the incident and I promise you that once that is done we’ll allow the rule of law to prevail” he said.
Footnote: First Published August 2, 2011 by David Augustine of Weekly Insight Newspaper and Posted online by Michael Matthew Ekpo