By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
20-year-old Uduak-Abasi Akpan and his father, Mr. Frank Akpan of Nung Ikono Obio village, in Uruan LGA of Akwa Ibom state have been arraigned before a high court 6, sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State for the alleged murder of a job seeker, Miss Iniubong Umoren.
The duo who are joined as first and second defendants in suit no HU/87c/ 2021are being prosecuted by the Akwa Ibom State Government represented by the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice.
They were arraigned, today, before Justice Bennett Illaumo on a three-count charge of murder, rape, and accessory after the fact to Murder.
The principal suspect, and first defendant, Uduak-Abasi Akpan is charged for committing murder contrary to section 326(1) of the criminal code, cap 33 vol.2, laws of Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria,2000 and also rape contrary to section 367 of the criminal code, cap 38 vol.2 of the Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria,2000.
He however pleaded guilty to the first charge of murder and pleaded not guilty to the second charge bordering on rape.
The 2nd defendant, Mr. Frank Akpan who is being prosecuted on the 3rd Count of accessory after the fact of murder, which is contrary to section 329 of the Criminal code, Cap 38, Vol.2. Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the Court proceedings, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr. Uko Udom (SAN), said what transpired in court was just a basic plea taking.
Asked the implication of the accused person pleading guilty to a first count charge of murder Udom responded, ” In law, for an accused person to plead guilty in such a capital offence is neither here nor there. If you recall when he started, his counsel was not there in court and the Court has to appoint a lawyer to represent him.
“So when an accused person pleads guilty in a capital offence like this, the Court normally would enter a plea of not guilty. So as far as the Law is concerned he is not guilty until we prove our case.
“In a criminal prosecution, we rely on the evidence from the investigations brought by the official investigators of the case. We’ve gone through all the investigation reports by all security operatives that handled the investigation, currently, the two people that have been arraigned today and charged are the people that we have sufficient evidence to prosecute.
“There have been so much in the social media and we don’t prosecute cases based on the social media, we prosecute cases based on what the investigating authorities present by way of facts and evidence”.
The Attorney General, however, assured members of the public that justice would be done at the end of the case and that the matter would not take long to conclude because today there are courts dedicated to criminal prosecution which makes it faster to conclude criminal cases.
“In this matter, I believe we will have justice before long. The constitution guarantees everybody a fair trial. We can guarantee the public that there will be a fair trial and that justice will be done at the end of the day.
“In criminal prosecution, there is no time bar to criminal culpability. If tomorrow, next week, even 10years from now evidence comes out that can tie anybody who is not charged today to this crime, that person will be charged and prosecuted till the end.
” So don’t feel that because we have only these two people that that is the end of the story, there is no time bar, if something comes up that is worth following up, it would be followed up, and if it is worth prosecuting, and the facts are clear it Will be done”, Udom stressed.
Also speaking with newsmen, Adula Samson, appointed by Court to represent 1st defendant, said, ” I will represent him till the end of the case because that is the duty that I have taken today. Before now I have no contact with the first accused person. It was just today that I took over his defense because the Court called upon me to put an appearance for him”
However, Emms Ekongson represented the second accused, Frank Akpan. The presiding Judge, Justice Bennett Illaumo adjourned the matter to August 18, 2021.
It could be recalled that late Iniubong Umoren a 26-year-old graduate of Philosophy University of Uyo(UNIUYO) and a native Nung Ita Ikot Essien in Oruk Anam LGA, was allegedly raped, murdered, and buried in a shallow grave while seeking for a job on April 29, 2021.