An autopsy conducted on Monday revealed that a university student who died in police custody in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s south-south, was tortured.
Uyo graduate Kubit Akpan, 28, was arrested by the police on August 29, as he sat with friends at a popular store in Uyo.
His lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said he was reported dead some hours later, having been tortured by some police officers.
The autopsy report invalidates the police’s claim that the student died of illness.
“The suspect (Mr Akpan) said that he was sick. Odiko MacDon, the police spokesperson in Akwa Ibom State, said in a statement on Saturday that the suspect was taken to the police clinic for treatment, but passed away as a result of the treatment.
The late student, according to Mr MacDon, was under investigation for robbery and cultism, a claim that was refuted by his lawyer, Mr Effiong.
The pathologist from the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital who performed the autopsy said there were visible bruises on the body that indicated torture.
The lawyer, Mr Effiong, as well as an investigating police officer, Udeme Ebong, and a man identified as Ene Inyang, an uncle of the late student, were present at the autopsy.
Not one or two, but plenty of signs of torture are present on this body. There are also signs of blunt head injury. Someone can have a blunt head injury from an accident, whereas the injuries here are torture-related,” he said pointing at the bruises on the victim’s left arm.
By the mortuary’s record book the police who deposited the corpse lied by saying the student died in Nsit Ubium, a local government area outside of Uyo where the student actually died.
According to the attendant, the men who brought the corpse did not identify themselves as police officers.
The next day, people who said they were from the police came to take pictures of the corpse,” he said.
On Saturday, Mr Effiong said that it was irresponsible for Mr MacDon, the police spokesperson, to accuse late Mr Akpan of robbery.
As far as I am concerned, Odiko MacDon’s statement was made under the influence of alcohol, he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“There was never any evidence of armed robbery or cultism against the deceased at any time.
A young boy was picked up by the police and tortured to death. His reasons for being taken into custody have yet to be disclosed to us,” the lawyer continued.
Over the years, Nigerian police officers have become notorious for torture and extra-judicial killing, leading to the historic #EndSars protest across Nigeria last year.