Murder: Court Grants Bail To Medical Officers, Detains Others 

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By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo

Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in  Uyo on Friday, granted bail to four of the six defendants in the murder of late Barrister Godwin Ikoiwak, a Principal State Counsel with the State Ministry of Justice. The other two defendants are to remain behind bars.

Those granted bail included three medical officers of St Luke’s Hospital Anua, Uyo. The charges against them include accessory after the fact of murder, conspiracy to effect unlawful purpose, and issuance of false certificate by public officer.

They are, Dr Imoh Johnson – 4th Defendant, Rev Father Gabriel Ekong – 5th Defendant and Dr Isaac Njoku – 6th Defendant. The three were alleged to have conspired with the wife of the late lawyer, Mrs Abasieseabanga Godwin Ikoiwak “on or before the 21st day of January 2022 at St Luke’s Hospital Anua Uyo to issue a medical report stating that Barr Godwin Ikoiwak was admitted, examined and treated of respiratory difficulty arising from asthma at the emergency unit of the Hospital before he died.”

“The facts”, according to the charge sheet, “were to their knowledge false in its material particulars”.

The presiding Judge, 

Justice Bassey Nkanang granted the bail in the sum of two million naira each with surtees in like sum who must reside and own landed property within Uyo judicial division. The judge insisted that surtees must swear to an affidavit of means of livelihood, and deposit two recent passport photograph, a national identity card, voters card, or international passport with the court, while the Defendants must also deposit two recent passport photograph and disclose to the court their functional GSM number.

Of the first to third Defendants who are charged with the murder, only the second Defendant, Margaret Patrick Umoh – the mother inlaw was granted bail on health grounds. The first Defendant Mrs Abasieseabanga Godwin Ikoiwak – wife, and third Defendant Owoidoho Patrick Umoh – sister in-law are to remain in the correctional center pending the determination of the charges against them. The two other accused, Udeme Patrick Umoh and Isaiah Gideon Isaiah whose names were struck out are still at large.

The Judge in his ruling said he had “a dispassionate look at all the application” and reasons adduced, and that competing issues raised by counsel on both side weighed in on the decision of the court.

“A grant of bail does not amount to freedom but a temporary release,” he explained.

In concluding cross examination of PW 1 – Dr Emeka Nwafor the Histo Pathologist who conducted the autopsy immediately after the ruling, Barr C I Odo – the defense counsel wanted the different types of Asphyxia explained. He demanded to know if a chokehold to the neck and Asthma can also deprive the Brain of oxygen thereby causing Asphyxia leading to death.

Dr Nwafor admitted that Asthma and a “chokehold to the neck can cause reduced flow of oxygen to the brain which may lead to death.” “However,” he explained that “in the case of a chokehold to the neck, a pathologist will see specific evidence or signs on the neck, mouth, nose, and internal organs,” just like asthma will show specific evidence.

He explained to court that the circumstance of the deceased in the case is different because the cause of Asphyxia which led to his death was the result of “vomitted stomach content in a background of toxic level of organophosphate.”

When asked the reason his report did not explain how the deceased came into contact with the substance, and did not also include the chemical analysis of the cause of death, the Pathologist responded, “it is not my job to state how the deceased came into contact with the substance, whether by dermatologic contact or ingestion.” And “my report did not contain chemical analysis because I am not a toxicologist. The toxicologist issued the analysis which I used to tie up my report.”

The case was adjourned to January and February of 2023 for continuation.

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