The commissioner for information, Akwa Ibom State, Ini ememobong spoke to TNN over the telephone shortly after the Uyo High Court judgement on Uduak Frank the killer of Iniobong Umoren. He shared the feelings of the state governor and recalled how his case has brought shame and ridicule to the good name of Akwa Ibom and her people.
On the judgment against Uduak, the murderer of Iniobong Umoren, how did you receive the news of his conviction?
As it is with court processes, the judgment is a reflection of the evidence of the court from the matter and the law of the land says where it is proven that someone has committed murder, such a person must be sentenced to death. So the law just ran its course. It’s a bit terrible to every person with disposition towards heinous crimes.
You see no amount of motivation that should lead to a person taking another person’s life because the person whose life you are about to take or you desire to take is a son ,daughter, father, mother, wife, brother, sister of another person. That is why, when people are put to death, it must be legitimate. They are aware of that; the law like in this circumstance, put people to death. So the law has ran its course after my lord had listened to the entire evidence and my lord has come to a judgment and if you see the public reaction and perception of the judgment, you will see that it’s in tune because the law must be in tune with reality.
The father has been acquitted, the sister has been acquitted. Let’s also talk about this.
Well you see the judgment of the court is a function of evidence and pleading and therefore I have not read the judgment of my Lord which I know will soon be public, will be available and for all to read the conclusion of the matter. My lord will provide the step on how he arrived at that so you can’t comment on it except you read the judgment and any comment on it is merely academic. If someone is not satisfied, the law provides a room for people to appeal and where it can be appealed, judgments are not arrived at by emotions; judgments are arrived at by a clear process of premise and conclusion.
Let’s even do a flash back. What were the things that were going through your head when you heard that a young girl who just left school and was looking for a job died in the process?
Well from how I see it and from the information I have, you know nationally and globally we see those crimes happening and its increase by the day globally because when people are getting frustrated like you hear in America, someone picks up a gun, enters a school and does mass shooting of children. Now the question is, what did those children do? So you know there are different issues on mental health, issues of depression there are issues of premeditated murder, there are issues where people are just salvaged immediately it happens. For me as commissioner for information, the pain was the dragging of the Akwa Ibom, men and women, into bad waters. In Nigeria, anything Akwa Ibom takes you round immediately; it goes to the roof and back that it happened in Akwa Ibom.
Where do you think we all went wrong?
Well globally issues of unemployment are rising and while issues of unemployment are rising, schools are graduating people. So when you see that the output of labour is increasing while the off take of labour is reducing, it creates a very tense competition in between, where people now want to say like (the late) Iniobong, ‘while waiting for the process of the NYSC, can I be useful to myself’?
So one of the way out is entrepreneurship. If we learn skills, if we develop ourselves in terms of craft and the rest- but even at that human contact will still be there- even if you provide service, the person will still have called you to come and provide service in his house and still kill you. But the beautiful part is that the law is there to ensure that when these things happen, people get punished. I also think that we need to review the disposition where if someone is missing, the police will ask you to wait for 24 hours or 48 hours to report. Immediately people are apprehensive that their person may have been missing, people should swing, security agencies should swing into action immediately.
The battle has now shifted to the desk of the governor. He is to sign for the execution of the killer and rapist. How soon are we expecting this to happen?
While I am the spokesperson for government, I don’t have the mandate of the governor to speak in that respect considering that it’s his decision. But you will also recall that globally, execution with electrocution, execution by hangmen and execution by firing squad, it’s a global movement in the sense that executing people is archaic. It is not fit for 21st century human existence, those people exist that have been making a lot of advocacy. But more than anything, absence of hangmen themselves. So we may have to encourage people to become hangmen because when there are people to be hanged and there are no hangmen to hang them, so journalists like you may have to campaign to encourage people to become hangmen because it’s an area of employment that is available. The last hangmen I know died and there are no longer ready hands to serve as hangmen. So if the condition should arise if they advertise and make the condition of service, a lot of people will go and become hangmen and will begin to hang people because not just in Akwa Ibom, across the various centres, we have a lot of cases who have been sentenced to death by hanging. I can’t remember when last there was an execution.
So in the case of Akwa- Ibom, the governor may not sign for the execution because there are no hangmen?.
You need to get me right. The duty of the governor is to sign, he has the prerogative to sign and not to sign and that jurisdiction can only be by him. We don’t have the permission to speak on his behalf on that matter. But I will just draw your attention to both globally and national issues that may affect this country.
From your closeness to the governor and using his body language since this matter started, do you think he will sign?
His body language has been his being very angry with this matter because he was personally involved because he told the attorney-general to take very personal interest in that matter, that he wants to know what the outcome will be. But in this matter only him can determine whether to sign the execution mandate or not.
Have you spoken with him since this judgment came?
No. I have not. He is in Abuja attending to matters of national interest and again, he needs to also draw a line between personal and social contract. It is the duty of the attorney-general to come and inform him that the judgment has been given and may be thereafter, if he has any disposition that needs to be made public on the judgment, that is when it will come to my table. You cannot also push too much considering that it’s an assigned duty.
Was there any time that the state executive council discussed this murder?
Of course there was a period; I said so. That was before even the burial of Iniobong, also to prevent not just the curative part. Yes, justice has been served whereby the murderer has now been convicted. So now, what we’ve been discussing is how to ensure that Akwa Ibom remains safe and to ensure that people don’t become predators to others. We are also taking gender based violence very seriously. People don’t just wake up and kill; they either belong to a secret cult; the killing is just a last step of the madness.
I have read reports that the governor is contemplating substituting Umo Eno as governorship candidate of the PDP. Can we talk about it?
The governor is the leader of the party but he is a member of the party and the candidacy is determined by the party. The leader of the party cannot really actually determine the candidacy of the party and the Electoral Act has a role to play in the entire process leading to to the emergence of the candidate. I am not aware that they have planned that there are grounds (for his replacement.)I am not aware that there are attempts because if it is so, a caucus meeting of the party will be convened and after the caucus meeting of the party, discussions will begin. I was with the state chairman yesterday, so I am not aware of that.