Members of family of Akpaka family of Umueze, Nimo, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State have resonated their call for justice over the mysterious death of their daughter, Mrs. Rita Ugwuegbulam (nee Akpaka) seven years ago.
The family alleged that certain persons and institutions of plotting tirelessly to obstruct justice in the suspected murder of the deceased.
In a petition, written and made available to Vanguard on Sunday in Ibadan, the family alleged Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), men and officers of the Nigerian Police Force Enugu State Police Command (Homicide Department), Dr. S.A.R. Ohayi of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Victor A. Osiatuma of Federal Medical Centre Asaba of complicity.
The deceased, Mrs. Ugwuegbulam, who was married to one Raymond Ugwuegbulam, was alleged to have died under suspicious circumstances on May 22, 2015, at her matrimonial home in Enugu.
According to the petition, it was the suspicion of the bereaved family that their in-law, Mr. Ugwuegbulam, may have had a hand in the death of their sister in view of certain alleged actions and inactions of his, prior to and after his wife’s death.
Since then, the brothers of the deceased have relentlessly battled to win justice for her, all to no avail, more than seven years after the death.
“Intrigues over autopsy prompted the family’s decision to obtain a post-mortem to ascertain the cause of their sister’s death unexpectedly led to an endless chain of curiosity.”
Family sources in a telephone interview with this correspondent, stated that they were dissatisfied with the report of the autopsy conducted on October 16, 2015, by Police pathologist, Dr. S. A. R. Ohayi of the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, as it failed to state the cause of death and made suspicious conclusion as to whether the fallopian tube and the ovaries were intact.
They were also suspicious of the subsequent post-mortem imaging done by Dr. Victor Osiatuma of the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, as he had unexplainably produced two conflicting reports, one not bearing a signature and affirming that the fallopian tube and the ovaries were visualized and the other bearing a signature and affirming that these organs were not seen.
ENDLESS PETITIONS, NO EFFECT
In the midst of the ensuing confusion, the Akpaka family decided to take their complaints to the Medical and Dental Practitioners Investigation Panel (MDPIP), an investigative body under the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Nigeria (MDCN).
However, according to Chris Akpaka, while speaking with Vanguard, the petition was struck out by the Panel for reasons described by the family as dubious, hence the petitioners complained to higher authorities accusing the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) of conspiracy and requesting for investigations into their handling of their matter.
“When MDCN struck out our petition for trumped up and frivolous reasons, we petitioned the higher authorities viz: the President, the National Assembly, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the National Human Rights Commission, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Justice, the ICPC, and the IG of Police.”
Our petitions got lost at the Ministry of Health, the SGF office, the ICPC, and others. We discovered this unexplainable loss after we didn’t hear from the offices we petitioned. We then filed complaints for missing petitions to the Ministry of Health and the SGF. We also wrote a complaint for the missing petitions at the ministries to the President.”
“These correspondences, signed by counsel to the Akpaka family, had their subject matter centered around the family’s complaints against the MDCN, Dr. Osayi, Dr. Osiatuma, and officers of the Nigerian Police Force, Enugu State Command, each letters bears an endorsement showing when it was received by the institutions to whom it was addressed to.”
“In particular, these petitions came hard on the Secretary of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Investigation Panel (MSIPP), Dr. Enejo D. Abdu, whom the family alleged to have all along constituted a cog in the wheel of justice. They alleged him of deliberately causing delay in disposing of their case as well as other underhand tactics to frustrate justice.”
“There were couple of response letters from some of the institutions acknowledging their receipt of the petitions include that of the ones dated December 9, 2019, July 29, 2020, and September 24, 2021 respectively) written by the Ministry of Health to the MDCN requesting that it responds to the allegations made by the Akpaka family.”
“In 2019, we found out through informal channels that the Ministry of Health, after we filed a complaint for missing petition, assigned the case to a committee who in turn sought the recommendations of their legal department. We succeeded in tracing the case file to the legal department.”
“The file has the reference number: TER/DM/DHS/004 and was dated June 7, 2018. I was able to talk to the lawyer assigned to give the recommendations, Barrister Emmanuel Ochum, who told me the file was awaiting recommendation requested by a committee. But soon after, this lawyer left the ministry.”
“We still don’t know what happened to the recommendations or with the committee. These are part of the questions that need to be answered.”
“The National Human Rights Commission closed our case without our knowledge. The lawyer whom the case was assigned to was very elusive and we have reasons to believe that she was highly compromised.”
“They are our letters and we still want copies of them. They later told us they have referred our case to their Enugu office which we find very suspicious because our main defendant is MDCN which is there with them in Abuja. We see that move as a ploy to kill the case.”
“The lawyer, Jennifer Suogo Aga, said they wrote us letters warning that they would close the case and another letter after the case was closed. We didn’t receive any of it. We repeatedly requested for copies of the said letters and they wouldn’t give them to us till this date.”
Regarding their petition to the Ministry of Justice, he said, to best of the family’s knowledge, no action has been taken by the ministry since acknowledging receipt of their petition in 2019.
“It was at the National Assembly that the petitioners got what seemed then like some ray of hope for justice. The family’s petition was treated at the hearings of the House of Representatives Public Petition Committee, and consequently, a resolution was passed on the floor of the House.”
“In a correspondent (Ref: NASS/CAN/105/Vol.25/484) dated September 11, 2019 and signed by the Clerk of the National Assembly, M. A. Sani-Omolori, communicating this resolution to the MDCN. The correspondent addressed to the Chairman of the MDCN stated: the House of Representatives on Thursday 39 May, 2019 debated on the above subject matter (petition by the Akpaka family) and consequently resolved that ‘the House should refer this matter to the Medical and Dental Practitioners Board for further investigation to determine the issue.”
“Endorsement on the letter shows that it was received by the MDCN on September 17 2019. The petitioners are, however, saying that they have never heard anything by way of a follow-up from the National Assembly. Now that the MDCN seemed to have ignored the resolution, we need to find out if the National Assembly has done anything to compel them to act as directed.”
“We believe we are victim of conspiracy and corruption. We are being double-crossed at every step of the way. We want to bring our ordeal to the public domain. We’re trying to get those higher authorities to take action against MDCN particularly and others mentioned in the petitions we wrote to those higher authorities. We want those higher authorities to do their job by investigating and concluding their investigation as soon as possible,” Chris Akpaka appealed.
Family sources said the body of their sister, Mrs. Ugwuegbulam, has continued to languish in a mortuary as a result of their failure yet to resolve the suspicions surrounding her death.