By: Ibanga Isine and Ndifreke Jacob
The criminal cover up
The Police in Akwa Ibom State have not only compromised the investigation into the assault, rape and murder of the jobseeker, Iniubong Umoren, but also shamelessly lied to cover up many aspects of the crime, the NEXT EDITION can irrefutably report today.
Right from when the elder sister to the deceased, Ifiok, reported that Miss Umoren, who had gone for a job interview along the Airport Road, Uyo, was in distress, the police did not take prompt action to rescue her.
The report was made at the Itam Divisional Police station on April 29, less than 25 minutes after Miss Umoren made a distress call to her friend.
Rather than rush to where she was heard yelling, “Jesus ooo. Jesus ooo,” in a highly disconcerting call to her friend, the police simply asked the distraught sister to go home and wait.
According to information obtained by our correspondent, the police said they could not do anything because it was not up to 24 hours after Miss Umoren went missing.
It was, however, not true that she was missing. In fact, Ifiok, the elder sister and a bosom friend in Lagos, Uduak Umo, knew who invited Miss Umoren for a job interview and the approximate location of the interview.
It is also true that the operatives at the Itam Police Station were told where late Miss Umoren had gone for an interview and who the supposed interviewer was, but they did nothing to help.
Checks by this newspaper show that the police only swung into action about 24 hours after the information they refused to act upon was shared and it was trending on social media.
Many believe that Miss Umoren could have been rescued alive if the police had swung into action and raided the fake interview compound immediately a report was made.
Besides failing to act promptly to save the life of late Miss Umoren, our investigation has shown that the command has dished out many lies to cover up the activities of what appears to be a dangerous murder ring in Uyo.
During weeks of enquiries, we found that the self-confessed rapist and murderer, Uduak Frank, was not working alone against claims by state Police Commissioner, Andrew Amiengheme.
Mr. Amiengheme had said on a live interview on Arise News and while addressing reporters in Uyo that the police have not found any accomplice to the crime.
But this is not true as investigation by this newspaper show that it was Emem Emmanuel, who first reached out to late Miss Umoren and offered to help her get a job, a fact the police are aware of.
The deceased, who graduated tops in the Department of Philosophy, University of Uyo, had made a post on social media requesting for a job while waiting to be called up for the National Youth Service Corpse (NYSC) scheme.
Not long after she made the post, Mr. Emmanuel reached out to her through the social media platform, Twitter.
After asking whether late Miss Umoren was still available for a job and she responded in the affirmative, he offered to link her with his boss who he claimed was looking for a secretary.
A top security source confided in this newspaper that Mr. Emmanuel is suspected to be a front for a deadly murder gang in Uyo.
Investigation by this newspaper has additionally showed that it was Mr. Emmanuel, who sent the phone number of Mr. Akpan to Miss Umoren.
The suspected accomplice is the son of a prominent pastor of The Apostolic Church in Akwa Ibom State.
For reasons best known to Mr. Amiengheme, the name of Mr. Emmanuel, a key suspect and member of the fake recruitment ring who personally lured Miss Umoren to her death, has not been referenced at any event.
This happens even as the suspect has been held in custody for weeks alongside Uduak Akpan and his father at the state headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia.
Both the father of Mr. Akpan’s and the suspected accomplice were arrested on April 30 hours before the culprit turned himself in following assurances that he would not be hurt by the police.
This shows that the three persons were arrested on April 30 but at different times.
Curiously, neither Mr. Amiengheme nor the Police Public Relations Officer, Idiko MacDon, has said anything about Mr. Emmanuel and why he has been held in custody during their various encounters with the media.
For instance, Mr. MacDon did not say anything about an accomplice in a statement he issued on the arrest of Uduak Akpan on May 1.
Mr. Emmanuel was not paraded on May 14, when Uduak Akpan and his father were paraded.
But the Next Edition can authoritatively report that Mr. Emmanuel has been in police custody from April 30 and the Akwa Ibom State Police command can only deny it to its corporate shame.
A pastor and son’s attempt to cover criminal track
Not long after the search for late Miss Umoren went viral on social media, Mr. Emmanuel hurriedly deleted his conversation with late Miss Umoren.
He also brought down both his Facebook and Twitter accounts when social media users started attacking him for his role in the jobseeker’s travails.
Unable to take the hit, Mr. Emmanuel used his shadow Facebook account to make a post denying ever contacting or having a conversation with late Miss Umoren.
His surrogate boss, Uduak Akpan, also disabled his Facebook and Twitter accounts but later used one of his shadow accounts to admit he contacted late Miss Umoren.
He, however, dropped the number of the jobseeker whom he had raped and murdered at the time, insisting that she never made it to his location.
Both accomplices disappeared shortly after making their respective posts while the search for late Miss Umoren on social media became the top trending topic.
The circumstances that led to the arrest of Uduak Akpan have been mired in controversy.
There are contradictory accounts by Uduak Akpan’s father, his cousin, Kufre Effiong, the police and the chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, Iniobong Ekpenyong.
In any case, on Friday, May 21, we discovered that Pastor Emmanuel, a politically-exposed minister of The Apostolic Church, Uyo Field, went to the police headquarters to take his child, Emem, on bail.
He was said to have obtained a note from the office of the Akwa Ibom State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) authorising the release of the suspect.
The move was, however, when concerned Nigerians drew the attention of Miss Umoren’s family members and they rallied people to state police headquarters to stop the move.
A family crime gone sour — Another victim speaks out
While the police and Mr. Akpan have struggled so hard to make the world believe he (Mr. Akpan) acted alone in his criminal enterprise, investigation by this newspaper has shown otherwise.
The Next Edition has found a strong evidence to show his family members have been complicit in the crimes.
Multiple victims and persons who have made contacts with the self-confessed rapist and murderer all agree that his family members aided and abated his crimes.
A victim by the name Amaria (not her real name) said she was lured by a woman who claimed to work with an integrated farm located along the Airport road in Uyo Metropolis.
In an interview with our correspondent, Miss Amaria said she made a post soliciting for a job on Facebook in December 2020 and a girl with a Facebook name Blezzen Lazarus, contacted her through Facebook Messenger with an offer of one.
“A girl sent me a chat asking if I have gotten a job and I said no and she told me there is a vacancy where she works and that her manager is looking for a computer operator,” Amaria began.
“That was on a Thursday. She then told me that the pay is N35, 000 per month and I asked her whether I will be paid N35, 000 just to use computer when I am not even a graduate? And she said yes.”
Amaria said Miss Lazarus which she later found out to be Emem, a sister to Mr. Akpan had told her they run an integrated farm and promised to “tell her boss who is also her cousin that I am her very good friend so that he could give me the job.”
On getting the farm location from Miss Lazarus, she (Amaria) traced it on Google Map and found it was approximately one hour, 15 minutes from where she had gone to stay with her friend.
“I told her that the place was far and that I will be spending more than N500 daily on transport but she said I should not worry because I will be getting tips,” Amaria continued.
“Besides, she said they have a bus that drops workers at Shelter Afrique junction. And from there to my place is N150, 00 and I said that was nice.
“I was skeptical about the offer but my friend said since they have a bus, I should just go. I dragged it till Saturday when Miss Lazarus (Emem) called and asked me to call her manager.
“She said after that day, he will be traveling and she does not know when he will come back. It was after 3pm when I called him (Mr. Akpan) and he said he will call me back. He later called me a few minutes to 4.pm.”
Amarria said she spent over an hour on the road trying to locate the farm and was unable to pick her friend’s consistent call, a situation which made her call Mr. Akpan to know if she (Amarria) had arrived.
When she finally got to the compound at about 5pm, she said the person she met did not look like a manager of a big company and to confirm, she dialed his number and Mr. Akpan picked and told her he was the boss.
But things changed when Mr. Akpan told her he was involved in an illegal drugs’ business and insisted on testing the drugs on her, a move she resisted for hours.
“He asked what his cousin told me about the job and I told him everything and he said whether she didn’t tell me about drugs and I said no and that if she had told me about drugs, I wouldn’t have come,” Amarria recalled.
“Because of what I said, he can’t let me go. Before that, he had asked me if I had given anybody his number and I said no. he said I was lying and showed me his phone and I agreed that I gave it to my friend.
“He said I messed up and that before they will allow me to go, they will come and know where I stay because they have revealed their secret to me that they deal in drugs like cocaine and weed (Indian hemp).
“I told him his cousin didn’t tell me anything about drugs and that if she had told me I wouldn’t have come at all.
“He asked me to calm down and then asked who else I sent his number to and I told him I send it to all my family members and that I sent my location to them too and that my location is always turned on in my phone.
“He delayed me till 9pm but wouldn’t allow me to go. At a point, he asked if I was offered a huge amount of money to bring my friend to be killed. I told him I can’t bring my friend for them to kill.
“He then asked whether someone has done something to me that hurt so much that if I see the person at the point of death, I won’t help the person and I said yes.
“He asked if I can bring that person to be killed and I said no. He said that I am a chicken. I continued begging him to let me go.
“He told me to keep my voice low because there are guys in the uncompleted building, who are always on weed and that if I made noise they would come out and whatever I see I will take it. I kept my voice low but still begged him.”
It was at that point Amarria said Mr. Akpan said he was going to test two drugs to see if she can withstand them.
She continued, “I told him I don’t want to work again and he insisted that they needed to test the drugs on me.
“He brought out two wraps of weed (Indian hemp) at about 10pm and told me if I wanted to go, I should inhale and swallow the smoke.”
While smoking, she said Mr. Akpan was taking her round the compound and asking her questions about what she was seeing, apparently to test the effect of the drug on her.
When nothing happened after she smoked one wrap of weed, Mr. Akpan offered her a second wrap and she continued smoking.
“I believed that he wanted me to pass out or start misbehaving. So, I started telling him I am scared. The compound is moving. Look at a monster. Look at a vampire. Jesus o !.
“I was behaving like I was mad but meanwhile I was faking it so that I will know what his next moves would be.”
It was at that point she said Mr. Akpan ordered her to pull her clothes so he would have sex with her and she refused.
“In the process of trying to pull my trouser, I hit my leg on a stone and a small scream escaped from my mouth.
“I saw that he was so scared and perhaps, what he told me about people taking care of the farm wasn’t true. I then conclude that he wanted to rape me and collect my phone.
“At that point I screamed and he lifted me and hit my body on the concrete floor. Normally, I would have died with the way he hit me but I think the weed I took did not allow me to feel any pain. He rushed me into a small room and I saw the sister, Emem.
“I told her babe, how can you do this to a fellow girl like you and she told me ‘babe comply and you will go,’ and I told her thank you. Yours is better. You lure girls to your brother to rape.
After raping her, Mr. Akpan seized her phone, wiped her fingerprints from it, collected the N1, 200 she had, stripped her and took nude pictures of her.
It was when a motorcyclist called to drop Amaria came and Mr. Akpan then referred to her as his little sister that changed things in her favour.
“The bike man asked him not to allow his younger sister (Amaria) to go alone because it after 12 midnight and he reluctantly joined me on the bike. But when we got to the road and we saw two other riders and we stopped, I was bold to ask him to give me my phone,” Amaria continued.
The three motorcyclists were said to have seized Mr. Akpan’s phone after they saw Amaria’s nude pictures in his gallery and later forced him to go back with one of them to collect Amaria’s phone from Emem.
On getting to the compound, Mr. Akpan was said to have ran into the bush but the motorcyclist made noise that forced Emem and the mother of the self-confessed murderer to come out.
Investigation by this newspaper show that Emem had admitted being in custody of Amaria’s phone.
It was also learnt that the mother begged that the youth would not hurt Emem because she was innocent and that they have been pleading with Uduak to stop what he has been doing but he would not listen.
The lone youth was said to have collected the phone from Emem and took it to where Amaria was waiting with the other two guys and handed it over to her.
But Amaria, who had reported the matter to the police team at Nnwaniba Junction said she was advised to let go of the matter unless she was willing to part with as much as N50,000 for the investigation.
Asked what might have made Mr. Akpan not to kill her, Amarria said, “I think why he let me go was because I shared his contact and the location with my friend and he might have thought that if he hurt me, people will get to know about it.” A full interview with Miss Amarria will be published soon.
Between yam holes and shallow graves
While Mr. Amiengheme while addressing journalists on May 14, insisted that there were no shallow graves in the compound where Miss Umoren was murdered, investigation by this newspaper has sown otherwise.
In fact, multiple sources and locals who spoke with one of our correspondents who visited the crime scene confirmed that indeed, many more corpses were exhumed in the compound by persons suspected to be police officers.
A local youth who conducted our correspondent around the crime scene said a few days after the police came to exhume Miss Umoren, another set of persons who behaved like security operatives stormed the compound and exhumed seven more corpses.
“After the corpses were exhumed, the whole of this neighbourhood was oozing with this strong putrid oddour and it was difficult to pass here,” a youth local who would not give his name because of safety concerns told our correspondent.
The youth who was speaking in Ibibio Language continued, “He had buried so many people so many people in this compound. Do you see this place, there was a corpse here. In that place you see there, there was a corpse. It seemed he cut people into pieces and buried them in a sack.
“Many of the trees he planted here were spots he buried people and if they dig around the compound, many corpses will be found. All these spots you see are places where they exhumed decayed corpses. You can perceive the stench wherever you find a hole here.
“There are places we found human bones and they were so many of them. Look at this human bone here. People came in here and picked some of the bones and dried human flesh.
“These bags you find all over the place are what he used in burying people. He cut the parts he needed and dumped the remaining body parts in the bags and buried them,” the source told our correspondent.
Insert video of the compound here: Caption: A local youth taking our correspondent round the shallow graves in Mr. Akpan’s compound (Video by Ndifreke Jacob).
A woman from the neighbourhood confided in this newspaper that early in the year, a lady scaled the fence of the compound and ran naked to their home at midnight.
“One night, a lady scaled the fence and ran to naked into our compound and we hid her till the next day. We gave her clothes to wear and she went away,” the lady told our correspondent.
“So many things have happened in that compound and a lot of corpses were removed from there by people who looked like policemen.”