Justice Godwin Abraham, the chief judge of Akwa Ibom state, allegedly watched his police orderlies beat up a young woman, a report has said. Also, the policemen were said to have forcefully removed the victim’s hair weave-on, after which they set fire to it. It was said that another relation of the victim, identified as Andrew Godwin, was also assaulted by the policemen. Both victims are relations of a House of Representatives member, Owoidighe Ekpoattai.
Godwin told PREMIUM TIMES that he was driving a Nissan salon car at the time Justice Abraham’s convoy was passing. He said he made way for the convoy to pass on the busy road, but that did not stop the policemen from whipping him with koboko (horsewhip). The young man said trailed the convoy to its destination, which was the chief justice’s house and demanded to know why he was whipped.
Godwin got an answer for his effrontery – he was beaten until he fled into a nearby bush. He ran home to call on the federal lawmaker’s husband, Ime Ekpoattai who himself is a former commissioner in the state. The former commissioner’s presence didn’t stop the assault as his driver also got some beatings.
The policemen would later accuse Godwin of planning to attack them with a machete.
“I wanted to go pick something from the car, and they started shouting, ‘Where is that knife that you want to bring out from the car?’ I asked them ‘which knife?’”, Godwin said.
The judge’s aide, a certain Essien, denied the policemen beat the victims.
“You have to understand the volatile situation of our security at this moment. If you see a convoy coming, blowing siren, you need to step aside and let them go their way,” Essien was quoted as saying. “If you do otherwise, you could be mistaken for an armed robber or anything”.
He said the relative of the federal lawmaker was “driving gently” and thereby “obstructing” the chief judge’s convoy.
Contrary to Essien’s claim that his principal was entitled to using siren, Odiko MacDon, spokesman for the Akwa Ibom Police Command, said the chief judge wasn’t among public officials permitted by law to use siren.