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COURT REMANDS REP, COUNCIL CHIEF, OTHERS IN PRISON OVER ASPIRANT'S MURDER

By NBF News

ALL the persons linked with the assassination of an Akwa Ibom State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Assembly's aspirant, Dr. Joseph Akpan Akpanakpudo, on New Year Eve have been arraigned before an Uyo Chief Magistrates Court.

The accused are a member of the House of Representatives (Ikot Abasi federal constituency), Bernard Udoh; a member of the state House of Assembly, Ekong Sampson; Chairman of Mkpat Enin Local Council Mr. Mfon Nkanteen; Secretary to the Council, Ubong Inyang; Leader of the Legislative Council, Udobong Godfrey, and former chairman of the council, Imowo Udobia.

All the five accused persons except Udoh indicated interest in the PDP ticket for the Mkpat Enin state constituency while Udoh, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Lands and Transport, wants the Lower House seat for the fourth time.

They were arraigned on a two-court charge of murder and conspiracy to murder.

The offences, according to the charge sheet, are punishable under section 331 and 326(1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 38, Vol. II, Laws of the Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000.

The charges reads in part: 'That you, Bernard Udoh (48); Sampson Ekong (44); Mfon Nkanteen (50); Udobong Godfrey (48); Imowo Udobia (40); Ubong Inyang (48) and others now at large on or about December 31, 2010 at Anua, Uyo Local Council, in the Uyo Magistrate District, conspired amongst yourselves to kill and unlawfully killed one Dr. Joseph Akpanakpudo.'

In his ruling, Chief Magistrate Edet Obot said the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear murder case.

Obot, who ordered that the case be transferred to a High Court within the state, also asked the police to forward the case file to the Director of Public Prosecution within six days for legal advice.

He ordered that all the accused persons be remanded in custody. Earlier in an interview with The Guardian, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Sani Magagi, said the murder of the gynaecologist was politically motivated.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Political and Legislative Matters, Mr. Jerry Akpan, who was at the police headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, to see the detainees, called on the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.

Magagi said the deceased was shot dead by gunmen on a commercial motorcycle Okada in Uyo near St. Luke's General Hospital, Anua, where he worked.

'We are going to fish out the killers of Akpanakpudo. Our investigations have revealed that his murder was politically motivated. The information we have revealed that the deceased was pressured to step down from the race and he refused. He was shot dead by gunmen riding a commercial motorcycle,' he said.

Magagi, however, called for a ban on commercial motorcycles because most of the crimes in the state are committed by persons using them.

According to Akpan: 'It is quite unfortunate that I don't know whether his killing is politically motivated or otherwise, it is painful for such a medical doctor to die just like that. It is a great loss to Mkpat Enin and Akwa Ibom state in general.

'I have been told that he attended a meeting where he was asked to step down for an aspirant, but he was adamant, but could that be the reason for killing him? It would be too bad because the governor has promised a level playing field for all and that he would not ascribe to what we call consensus except the people so agree. So I don't know where the issue of stepping down for Mr. A or B came from.'