Though the use of mobile phones by students has been banned in secondary schools in Akwa Ibom, students still smuggle them into schools. Correspondent EMEKA SAMUEL writes on how mobile phone led an 18 year old female student to her early grave even as confusion trails investigation into the murder.
For Mercy David Nnah, a widow from Iton Ikono in Uyo Local government area, the gruesome murder of her 18 year old daughter, Miss Gift David Nnah, by miscreants in very mysterious circumstances has understandably brought her life to a standstill. And to add salt to her eternal injury, the heartbroken mother said all efforts to get justice through links with the police have proved abortive. Sadly, she also revealed that the police have instead of facilitating justice exploited her helplessness by extorting money from her at every little step made to scratch at the path to justice.
Mrs Nnah, a mother of five, who lost her husband since 2003 and has single-handedly cared for the five children, including the deceased, with the proceeds from her akara business, said she had to pay N10,000 to the police before she was taken to Ikpatex mortuary in Ibesikpo, where the body of the daughter was deposited. She claimed she was even extorted by the police before she could be taken to the spot where her daughter was allegedly thrown out of Keke Napep.
The bereaved woman, who said she has been living in a one-bedroom rented apartment for years since she lost her husband, lamented her situation stressing that her daughter was gruesomely murdered for no apparent reasons by suspected miscreants.
Narrating her ordeals, the physically depressed and distressed widow said she had repeatedly cautioned her late 18-year-old daughter, who was an SS2 student of Christian Secondary School, Uyo, against association with members of the opposite sex. She explained that the late daughter had on the fateful day gone out in the evening, (without her notice) to get her phone from a male friend, who had earlier taken the phone for repairs.
“Late in the evening, around 9pm, a call came through my eldest daughter’s line, with Gift’s (the deceased) phone number, the caller introduced himself as a police officer and asked us to come to Owot Uta village in Ibesikpo Local government area, that my daughter had an accident. It was too late to start going to such an unknown village at that time of the night. So we made every effort to get the caller to explain further since the distance to the place he claimed he was calling from was far and it was again far into the night failed.
“Early in the morning the next day, we succeeded in calling the number again and we were asked to come to the police station. There, we met a Keke Napep rider (tricycle) whose name was simply given as Ntiense. He claimed that he was hired by three passengers along Aka road, Uyo to Ibesikpo, two male passengers and a lady. According to him, it was obvious the two males knew each but are now at large, while the female was later revealed to be my late daughter.
“The keke man further told me that he heard someone fell out of the keke as they were going and when he turned to check, he was ordered at gun point to keep moving. He claimed to have stopped over at someone’s house after being repeatedly threatened and parked his keke and ran away”.
On his return to pick up his tricycle, the landlady of the compound suspected him and raised an alarm which alerted community members who apprehended him and later handed him over to the police,” she explained.
The bereaved mother said the daughter’s friend, Mr Simeon Friday, who was responsible for her stepping out of the house that night, claimed they parted ways earlier in the evening, after she collected her phone from him. Friday, according to her, has been arrested and remanded in prison custody together with Ntiense.
Nnah, who expressed lack of confidence in whatever the police have so far done about the death of her daughter, said the same police officer who had earlier advised her to seek out- of-court settlement, later charged the case to court. So far, she has lost both understanding of what was going on, as well as the finances to fund further issues as may be demanded by the police or court.
“I live in one room with the children, as I speak with you now, the landlord has asked us to pack out, I lost my husband since 2003 and I have no one to speak for me. I have no money to settle the mortuary bills or buy coffin to bury my daughter,” She lamented.
She mentioned that the doctor, who had carried out autopsy and also explained the result to her at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, said the daughter, as revealed by the report, was badly hit forcing her tongue out, before being thrown out of the tricycle. From her perspective, it seems obvious that her daughter’s assailants must have brutalised her before pushing her off the tricycle.
She, therefore, called on the wife of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mrs Martha Emmanuel, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, Dr Gloria Edet, and other relevant individuals and agencies to come to her aid.
Telling her part of the story, the elder sister to the bereaved, Miss Idara David Nnah, said “Simeon called my sister to come and get her phone at the junction; we went out together but did not see him there. He later called my sister who went out alone to meet him, only for the police to call so late in the night to talk about accident.
“I called the guy she went out with and he told me he was equally called and was already there with her. When I met him the next day to go with him to the police station, he said he could not get to where my sister was that night, for fear of being arrested by the police who were all over the area he was directed to. He claimed he had to lie to us so that we may not be overly worried,” Idara said.
When contacted, the IPO in charge of the case, who pleaded anonymity, said he was not in position to speak on the matter. But he acknowledged the incident referring to it as a murder case that had been transferred from Ibesikpo division to another location. He equally said the case has already been charged to court and that the case file has been forwarded to the DPP to ascertain whether those in custody have cases to answer or not. “We have advised both parties to embrace peace, but they do not seem to be cordial,” he said hinting that he was certainly not ignorant of the parties involved.
A senior teacher in the deceased’s school, who pleaded anonymity, expressed sadness over the incidence but stated that the initial report was that the girl was raped to death. He, however, expressed frustration over their inability to stop students from using phones in the school.
“Use of phones by students has been banned in the public secondary schools but these students will always find a way to smuggle them into school even after all the threats and efforts we have made to discourage them.
“On a daily basis, I seize more than three phones from students but that has not deterred them from smuggling it into the school. It is very unfortunate that the girl died that way but then it could also serve as a lesson to other students who use their phones for mischievous purposes,” he said.