A federal court in Georgia, United States of America, has granted a landmark order directing two United States-based Akwa Ibom State indigenes to produce documents and submit to interrogation in connection with investigations into criminal violence in Akwa Ibom State.

A judge presiding in the Northern District of Georgia authorised the issuance of subpoenas, directing Mr. Thompson Essien and Nicholas Edet (aka Odudu Abasi), both Akwa Ibom citizens based in the United States, to produce documents and information, and to provide sworn testimonies, relating to criminal investigations into their activities in the United States and Akwa Ibom State.

Akwa Ibom State’s application to the U.S. court was presented by the State Attorney General, pursuant to Title 28, Section 1782 of the U.S. Code, which brings to bear the full scope of the United States discovery process for use in foreign proceedings, such as criminal investigations in Akwa Ibom State.

Robert Amsterdam, an international legal counsel to Akwa Ibom State Government, said:“We have information that Messrs. Essien and Edet have participated actively from the United States in planning and coordinating violent criminal activities in Akwa Ibom State, including the events on March 22, 2011, which led to the death of at least 12 people and extensive property damage in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.

“This Order represents a blow to criminal impunity in Akwa Ibom because it gives us access to the defendants’ records in the United States, and it forces them to submit to interrogation on the record and under oath about their connection to rampant criminal activities in Akwa Ibom State.”

Reacting to the Order, the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ekpenyong Ntekim, said: “This is an excellent step forward because it exposes indigenes who sponsor criminal activities in their home states under the diasporan cover.”

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