Inibehe Effiong

On Wednesday October 22, 2014 an Uyo High Court presided over by Hon. Justice Joy Unwana of Court 7 discharged and acquitted 40 of the 44 innocent students of the University of Uyo who were arbitrarily arrested, incarcerated and arraigned in connection with the students’ demonstrated in the institution on June 12, 2013 against oppressive policies.

It would be recalled that the management of the institution had invited anti-riot policemen to brutally suppress what was clearly a peaceful protest by students. The police in the most unprofessional manner exuded maximum force by firing live bullets which resulted in the death of a male student of the Department of Zoology of the school by name Kingsley Udoette, who was ostensibly hit by a stray bullet fired by the police since there is no iota of evidence that any other person aside the policemen used arms during the duration of the crisis.

Following the provocative murder of Kingsley Udoette, the peaceful protest turned violent, leading to the destruction of some structures and facilities of the institution. This led to the closure of the university. The police then embarked on a reckless and arbitrary arrest of 44 innocent students that they were able to lay their lawless hands on from their off campus hostel along Udi Street in Uyo and on the road.

Upon the reopening of the school, each engineering student of University of Uyo was made to pay the sum of N10,000 while other students paid N7,500 as surcharge for the damaged properties. Despite the death of a student and the payment of surcharge by students, the Prof. Comfort Ekpo-led management of the school still colluded with the police and the Akwa Ibom State Government to subject the 44 arrested students to a very frivolous and senseless criminal prosecution.

In a primitive show of force, the police in a gestapo manner took the 44 students before an Uyo Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Chief Magistrate Lawrence S. Udonwa on trump-up charges of murder, arson among others, even when they knew that only the state High Court have the jurisdiction over these offences.

The Chief Magistrate declined jurisdiction in the matter, but instead of discharging the students accordingly, surprisingly made a committal order remanding the students in the Uyo Prisons pending the decision and advice of the State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) under the cover of the notorious practice of ‘Holding Charge’- a practice which was deprecated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the much cited case of Enwere versus Commissioner of Police [1993] 6 NWLR (Pt. 299) 333. The apex court in that case had declared the practice unconstitutional.

Following the remand order, the 44 affected students were incarcerated in prison custody for several months over what they knew nothing about. Their poor parents and guardians spent hundreds of thousands of naira for the services of lawyers except for the few that we were able to secure pro bono (free) legal services for. One of the students developed a mental illness while in prison. His condition deteriorated after his release from custody which led to the suspension of his studies.

Not satisfied, the Akwa Ibom State Government preferred charges against the students in the High Court. Finally, the judiciary has risen to its historic responsibility as the last hope of the common man, the shield of the oppressed and the guardian of the rights of the citizens.

The Learned trial Judge, Hon. Justice Joy Unwana, a fearless and reputable judge, in ruling on the application to quash the charges filed by lawyers to 40 of the 44 students discharged and acquitted the 40 students on charges of conspiracy, unlawful assembly, arson, and murder on the ground that no prima facie case has been made out against them by the prosecution as the prosecution could not establish any link between the accused persons and the commission of the crime.

In respect of the four remaining students whose lawyers had failed to file the motion to quash the vexatious charges, the court gave them yet another opportunity to do so.

Of the 9 police officers who testified as with witnesses, non of them could identify any of the accused persons as having taken part in the alleged crimes. It was disclosed from the witnesses evidence that the police did not even enter inside the school premises (the scene of the crime).

The Judge queried how they could have identified the culprits? He found from evidence before the court that most (if not all) of the accused persons were arrested at various locations in Ikpa road, Ikot Ekpene road, and Udi street etc, all in Uyo and that non was arrested at the scene of the crime.

The court noted that no Nigerian citizen should be subjected through the rigours of a trial except prima facie case can be established against him and that in order to establish a prima facie case, the information must not only disclose the offence charged, but must also disclose the circumstances upon which it can be justly inferred that the accused could have committed the offence, and that suspicion, no matter how strong, cannot ground a conviction. In support of this trite principle of law, His Lordship cited with approval the Supreme Court cases of; Ikomi V State, Abacha V State, Suleiman V State, FRN V Nwabara, State V Ikemson).

As an obiter, the Learned Judge condemned the action of the police and the DPP.  He stated that the practice in which the police arrest people indiscriminately whenever a crime is committed portends disaster to criminal justice  administration in Nigeria and that the State DPP being aware of this went ahead to arraign the accused persons. He concluded by saying that anything done by man to his fellow man must have its reward either in this world or in the world to come.

I am delighted that the judiciary has once again issued a strong message to the Nigerian state and its lawless institutions. The University of Uyo management have sinned not just against those poor students but against God and nature. It is very shameful that an academic institution could condescend so low and exude such contempt for the rights of Nigerians with atavistic impunity.

University of Uyo management has lost its conscience and have crossed all known boundaries of decency in its desperate but failed attempt to downplay the very core issues of oppression, corruption and bad policies which led to the student protest.
As the Learned Judge said obiter; they will have their reward.

Is it not most imbecilic that the police and the Akwa Ibom State Government could charge 44 people for shooting and killing one person (Kingsley Udoette) with one bullet? This is a clear case were the killers are looking for the killers. The blood of Kingsley Udoette continues to cry for justice.

Instead of indulging in wasteful and pointless organization of periodic hypocritical solemn assemblies, the University of Uyo management should adhere to the dictates of truth and justice. The university can start with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the June 12, 2013 crisis in the school. 

The current state of the Nigerian Police Force is irreformable. What we need now in this country is not cosmetic police reforms but an entirely new police service. We need a Judicial Commission of Enquiry into cases of extra-judicial murders and other human rights abuses by the police.

I congratulate the 40 acquitted students for their epochal victory over their oppressors. However, I must note the conspiratorial silence of the civil society, the human rights community and the main stream media on this case. Selective activism and advocacy is itself a form of dictatorship.

We appreciate the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), and the Joint Action Front (JAF) for their solidarity and the few lawyers, activists, journalists and media organizations that stood by us during this struggle.

Inibehe Effiong is a Human Rights Activist. He led the Free UNIUYO 44 Campaign.

He can be reached via +2348065142135 or


Secrets Reporters

Barely 24 hours after Secrets Reporters revealed that Tony Obuh, formerly favored governorship candidate of Gov. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan was dumped by the maradonic governor, another shock has spread through the camp of the guber hopeful, as his Social Media director, Mr Vincent Jude Oshiagwu Jr. has left the sinking ship for another guber aspirant, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa.

While announcing his defection to the Okowa media team, Deltans Diaspora, Vincent stated that he was “moved by the love l have for my dear state and distinguished senator Okowa, our principal, l have no option but to return”
The statement personally signed by him noted that “l wish to state clearly that this is where l belong and am back for good. It will amount to a bigger error if my dream of seeing the enthronement of good governance in Delta with senator Okowa as governor, which l and my immediate boss, Patriot Dantes Odogwu share be allowed to be truncated because of the error of another man. l hold no grouse against anyone but only believing and determined more than ever before to see the man whom l have always loved and admired, senator Dr. Okowa emerge victorious, both at the primaries and the guber 2015 election”
Pledging his loyalty to the Okowability team and Deltans Diaspora, he affirmed “that this is not the time to fight but to work harder together at this critical time to pursue our course, which l know is a JUST one and ensure that senator Dr. Okowa becomes governor of Delta State next year”.
It will be recalled that he left Deltans Diaspora in a manner to the Obuh team, which caused jubilation in their camp, before his eventual return. It is not yet known as at press time what specific role he will play in Deltans Diaspora now that he is back.


Secrets Reporters

What was meant to be a landslide victory for President Goodluck Jonathan on social media, ended up turning the President into a laughing stock.

A poll conducted by the President’s aide on New Media, Reno Omokri and hosted on to test the popularity of Mr Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari saw Buhari claiming the day over Omokri boss.
Contrary to Omokri’s belief that his boss will beat Buhari in a social media contest, checks in the website poll reveals that forty eight hours after it was created on October 16th, GMD already ran away with 64% margin leaving 26% to Mr Jonathan. The ongoing poll reveals that in a likely free and fair election, Mr President may be biting his fingers if results in the poll are anything to go by.