Emotional Story Of John Akpavan. Abuja Radio House Suicide Attacker
John Akpavan was arrested with weapons at the Radio House in Abuja. He said the weapons belonged to his late brother who was a policeman. A Daily Trust reporter went to John’s village to verify his Story (Gora), a sleepy village in Karshi Development Area of Nasarawa State, stands 38 kilometers from Abuja, and 12 kilometers from Keffi, along Abuja-Keffi Road.
It has two major roads – all dusty type - on both sides of the road, and they all run through the shanty settlement, providing links to a cluster of humble abodes with rusty iron roofs, or thatched roofs.
Deep inside Gora, along the road on the left side - if one is driving from Abuja – lies what seems to be the centre of the village because of the densely packed nature of houses there. Inside one of these houses, is a large compound where John Alaku Akpavan, the 39-year-old man who was arrested at the Radio House in Abuja, Monday, with a bag containing canisters of teargas and ammunition.
Akpavan who is now being interrogated by security operatives in Abuja, tried to enter the premises during a ministerial briefing event where not less than three ministers were billed to address newsmen on their stewardship in the last one year.
A footpath behind a tall telecom mass tight linked Daily Trust to a compound comprising of closely packed structures, sandwiched by many other houses. “That is the House of John”, said a man this reporter had met by the road.
Children of primary school age played at the door of the first room on the block on the left. An adult female voice screamed at the children to return inside, when this reporter announced his visit to the compound. Janet, the woman who struggled with a tattered curtain, to show her face, while also hurrying the children back into the room, explained she was the wife of Akpavan, in response to this reporter’s inquiry.
She was calm and immediate with answers as though she had a questionnaire ahead of the meeting. “This is where we live. I am John’s wife”, she said. They married in 2004, after John met her in Jua, a shanty of Abuja where the detainee stayed before he moved into Gora, far outside Abuja, in order to beat the shylock charges of Abuja landlords.
But John’s elder brother’s widow, whose name she gave as Mama Selina, still lives there. John and his immediate younger brother, Benjamin, moved outside Abuja, but have continued to work with an uncle who manages a scaffold business in Abuja. “He goes to Abuja everyday because of his work. When there is no work, he stays in the house”, she said. She said John worked with Bullet Construction before he joined his uncle as a technician, taking his younger brother with him.
She took this reporter inside the one-room apartment, and displayed some items under the bed and television stand, saying, “We have nothing in our house. What happened was just out of ignorance.”
She said she married John after his elder brother (a police corporal) died. “He died long ago. I can’t say, but it was before I married John”, she said.
She corroborated her husband’s Story that the widow of late Corporal Aliyu Clement, Mama Sabina had invited the suspect recently, and showed him what she found in her late husband’s luggage. She insisted that “we kept them because of ignorance.”
Janet, who now has four children, the oldest being seven years old, said she was the one who stumbled on the pack of teargas and ammunition, in some of their things, last week, while she searched through old and unusable things to discard of. “I found them lying there. So I waited for my husband to return. I told him that we were still keeping the things, and he said he will take them to Abuja to show them there. He did not want to give them to police. He wanted to give them to the minister because he wanted reward”, she said.
She said she was surprised when, not too long after her husband left for Abuja, when some neighbours informed her that they heard John was arrested there. “I thought he went there doing some bad things with the things he took to Abuja. I was confused, but continued to pray. I waited for my children to return. I told them, and together, we prayed and handed everything to God’s hands.”
Janet, whose eyes were swollen with crying, said she later tuned to NTA, to see for herself, that her husband was truly arrested with the same “things” he took to Abuja to hand to authorities for reward.
She displayed a collection of old photographs. “See, this is the elder brother – that policeman that died. He was the owner of the things, not John”, she said, displaying a photograph of the said policeman and his wife and two children.
On the back of the old photograph is an inscription in faded blue ink: “Clement, his children 5/1/2003.” She said John wrote the words there. The said late brother has on his image, an inscription “RIP.”
Several photographs of the extended family was shown to Daily Trust, and almost all with late Corporal Clement’s image has this “RIP” inscribed on his image.
But none of the photographs had an image of the late policeman in uniform. So Janet took this reporter down the road, to a compound where Benjamin, John’s younger brother is living with his family. Benjamin was not available. His wife, Dorcas, brought out a collection of pictures, also displaying those with the late policeman’s image bearing “RIP” in faded inks.
She also brought down a wall portrait of her late brother in-law, in uniform. The photograph which looks old, carries a man looking like he was a twin of John. His Mobile Police uniform with the rank of corporal also bears a name tag “Aliyu C. Barnabas.”
In response to our inquiry, the two women said the elder brother preferred to go with the grand father’s name – Aliyu, while the two younger brothers are bearing their father’s name – Akpavan. They said the “C” on the name tag is the initial for “Clement.”
Benjamin’s wife corroborated John’s account of how he came to be in possession of canisters of teargas and ammunition. Benjamin’s phone number did not connect at press time.
This reporter also sought other people in the village, who confirmed knowing John. In turns, they provided all they know of him. One of them said in Hausa: “if something will happen, it will. I know John. He is not that kind of a person.”
He took this reporter to two persons he introduced as apprentices who John had taken to introduce to his uncle’s business. They both said they were surprised it happened to John, but offered brief prayers for him.
At the other side of the road – directly opposite the dusty road that linked to John’s residence, stands a poorly built and unpainted structure housing “Deeper Life Bible Church”, where John worships. The pastor, whose name was simply given as Ale, was not available. His phone number did not connect for his comments.
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