Man dies in Akwa Ibom police custody; CP orders family to pay for autopsy
The Police in Akwa Ibom State has been accused of seizing the corpse of one Mr. Isopida Etim Udosen, who passed away in its custody on 25th July, 2019.
Udosen, 54, a father of 8, hailed from Ikot Obok community in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom State.
He, alongside his kinsman, Mr. Etim Thompson, was arrested on 24th July, 2019, by officers from the Anti-cultism Unit of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command on the instructions of the village council which accused the duo of cultism and fomenting trouble by refusing to relinquish ownership of oil palm trees to the community.
According to Mr. Thompson, the deceased passed away after he was led out of the cell by officers in the night of 25th July, 2019.
He alleged that he personally sighted the corpse after the officers ordered him to go identify it.
Also speaking, a son to the deceased, Mr Uduak Isopida Etim, lamented that the village council led by one Paul Davies, who was one of the signatories to the petition against his late father, has now seized ownership of the palm trees and has vowed to deal with anyone who tries to oppose the development.
He alleged that he saw bruises on his father’s corpse which is currently held by the police.
Narrating further, Mr Uduak Isopida said the family filed a suit in court against the police and the village council but withdrew the case and took same to the EndSARS Commission of Inquiry as instructed by the state government.
4 years after the panel submitted its report to the state government, the recommendations made by the panel have not been made public or implemented.
The family of the deceased has been told by the police that the panel’s recommendation on the issue must be communicated to them before they accept to release the corpse to the family.
According to the family, Commissioner for Police, Olatoye Duronsimi, has has personally ordered his family to provide money for autopsy.
He appealed to the Akwa Ibom State Government to expedite action in ensuring that victims of police brutality get justice. He also solicited for the release of the white paper of the Commission of Inquiry.
Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko Macdon, did not respond to this reporter’s request for the police’s side of the story.
See a copy of the suit filed at the Akwa Ibom High Court in Uyo below:
In the meantime, the children of the deceased have asked the Commissioner of police to release the remains of late Isopida for burial.
In a letter through their counsel, Star Attorneys, dated 30th October, 2023, the children, having resolved to bury the remains of their late father, informed the Police that they have fixed a December funeral date for the late Isopida.
The letter entitled “Notification of burial and request for the release of the remains of late Mr. Isopida Etim Udosen who died under police custody“, signed by Ndifreke Akpan Esq. and copied to Anti-Cultism Section of the Akwa Ibom Police Command, and the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), reads:
“We are counsel to Mr. Ekom Isopida Etim, and Mr. Uduak Isopida Etim Udosen who are the children of the above named deceased (Hereinafter referred to as “Our client”) who died in the custody of the Anti-Cultism Section of the Nigerian police Force, Akwa Ibom State Command Headquarters Ikot Akpan-Abia, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on or about the 24th day of July 2019.
“Following the conclusive hearing and determination of the Judicial panel of investigation on Incidences of Police Brutality in Akwa Ibom State, our clients have now resolved to bury the remains of their late father which was deposited at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital mortuary, Uyo – Akwa Ibom State by the Anti-Cultism section of the Nigerian police Force where he died.
“Burial arrangements have been made by the family, and the funeral dates has been scheduled to hold from 21″t – 22nd December, 2023 at Ikot Obok Nsit lbom Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State. Our Clients hereby request that the remains of their late Father which has been in the above-mentioned mortuary since 2019, be released to them on or before the 30th day of November, ZOZ3 and the outstanding mortuary bills be settled accordingly.
“It is our outmost request that this letter be given top priority given the facts surrounding the circumstances of our client’s father’s death and considering the great deal of hardship and emotional trauma already endured and suffered by the entire family of the deceased.
“Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response.“ Read more.