A woman falsely accused of stealing cash at a wedding has opened up on her ordeal.
Her voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes amid sobbing while recounting her ordeal on that fateful day, Monday, November 5, 2018 at Usenten village in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The victim, Iniubong Essien, had been allegedly abducted by
This, she narrated, was the worst nightmare of her life as the incident left her traumatized and deeply depressed. For several weeks thereafter, she could not go to public places as she did not know who may have seen her n*ked body as posted by her attackers on the social media while she was being falsely paraded as a thief.
Iniubong said: “Being a friend of the bride, I helped her to sell the uniforms (aso-ebi) to our fellow friends and I attended the wedding and assisted in serving food while one of the friends of the bride, Gloria, assisted the couple in picking money sprayed on them during the nuptial dance. The service point was at the back of the hall. And I left in the company of other friends when they were giving the vote of thanks, because I had another traditional wedding to attend in the same neighbourhood.
‘’The day after the event, I was invited to the couple’s home at Ewet Housing Estate, Uyo, and I informed them that I would not be able to visit them and jokingly told them to continue to enjoy their honey moon and that I would see them later and render account of the wedding uniforms I handled for them. I was still resting on the bed when Aniedi came and knocked and I opened the door for her and she came in and thanked me for my support during their wedding. She then invited me to come and meet the husband who was in the car with Gloria and one other person.
‘’When I got to the car, they asked me to enter and I said it was an opportunity for me to go the ATM so that I could withdraw the money and give to them, which I did. But instead of taking me back to my house, Pele (friend’s husband) took me to the village and he started calling people and, immediately, a crowd gathered and they started asking me to confess where I kept the money. And I asked them which money? At this point he (Nseobot) was grinding charcoal to rub on my body and he ordered his boys to strip me. And his PA told him, ‘Where is your gun? Let us finish this woman, whether she has not heard about Pele in Eket’. The PA added that nothing would happen if l was killed as his boss had the backing of prominent politicians in the state. I kept pleading with them all this while to let me go, but they refused.
‘He (Councillor) told me that he would kill, bury me and nobody would know. And I told them that if they killed me, the truth would one day come out and my innocent blood would not dry in Ibiono. They broke bottles on my head and assaulted me. And my n*de pictures were taken by the Councillor and the people and shared on social media”.
Iniubong said after much pleading, they agreed to take her to a herbalist for what she described as ‘’native finding”, and the villagers boarded four mini buses and other cars, and, as they were going, a friend of the Councillor called and warned him of the dire consequence of his unholy acts and he immediately disengaged the villagers and made a detour to Uyo to the Police Headquarters at Ikot Akpan Abia and handed her over to the police.
The police, Vanguard reports, moved by the bruises and injuries she sustained, immediately sent her to a clinic for medical treatment, while one of the suspects (Councillor Nseobot) was arrested and granted bail.
Meanwhile, Iniubong’s lawyers, Bailey Chambers, raised a strongly worded petition to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State CID, alleging assault, battery and threat to life as well as attempted murder of their client by Nseobot and his wife.
Akwa Ibom State Branch of the International Federation of Women Lawyers also stepped into the matter. The body equally petition the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and the police and urged them to use their good offices to ensure the case was not swept under the carpet.
The women lawyers, in the petition signed by their Vice Chairperson, Emem Ette, condemned the incident in its entirety, and urged the Attorney General to take over the matter from the police to ensure that the suspects are prosecuted as, according to them, no man is above the law.
They maintained that the association would follow the case to its logical conclusion with a view to making sure that justice was done or seen to be done in the matter.
A traditional dimension has been added to the matter because of the fetish angle the suspect and his alleged accomplices were said to have taken on the victim, prompting the traditional institution in Nsit Ubium to send a message to her counterpart in Ibiono Ibom.
Two months after the incident, Iniubong is yet to come to terms with what happened as she still could not understand why her friend, her husband and their friends allegedly gave her such a raw deal, despite their cordial relationship which, according to her, spanned over 8-years and which, she said, necessitated her involvement during their marriage arrangement.
The victim has, however, approached the court in a bid to get justice.
‘’I want the right thing to be done. I want him (Councillor) to clear my name. He should go to the same village and call the same people on the day he disgraced me and apologize. He should also tender unreserved apology in national, local papers as well as radio. It is only then that I can let the matter to die permanently”, Iniubong said.