By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
THE trial of Uduak-Abasi Akpan, alongside his father and elder sister in the gruesome murder of 26-year-old graduate of Philosophy, University of Uyo, UNIUYO, late Iniubong Umoren, continued on Monday at Akwa Ibom State High Court9 sitting, in Uyo with the testimony of the third and fourth Prosecution Witnesses.
The 3rd Prosecution witness, Miss Uduak Joseph Umoh residing at No.5 Akanni
BahShorun, Lekki, Lagos State, told the Court that late Iniubong Umoren was her friend and that she saw her last on April 25, 2021 before traveling to Lagos
The witness who was led in evidence by the Prosecution Counsel, and State Solicitor-General, Mr. Christopher Udoh, narrated how
her late friend called her on phone on April, 29, 2021 and said she has a job interview she needed to attend, but that she was contemplating to go or not, because, She did not have enough money for transport fare.
She said she sent her (deceased) the sum of N2,000 through her bank account, noting, “But before I sent her the money I instructed her to tell somebody that She was going for a job interview and also give the phone number of the person who invited her for the interview. used in calling her. I also told her to send her location on google Map. She said okay.
“After a while She called back and informed me that she has sent the phone number of the person who invited her for the interview to her elder sister Ifiok Ephraim Umoren. She called again later and said that She was on her way to the interview venue. After sometime I sent her text message and asked if she has reached her destination, and she said no.
“After a while she called and informed me that she has arrived her destination. About 30mins later She sent a voice note to me on Whatsapp, I played it but I could not hear anything. I immediately called her and when She picked I heard her screaming, then the call ended abruptly”
Umoh, a serving NYSC member, further told the Court that after calling her deceased friend twice again without any response, she decided to post on the social media that Iniubong Umoren was missing, and afterwards contacted Ifiok Ephraim Umoren who admitted that her younger sister informed her about the job interview along Airport Road on that April 29.
According to PW3, when She now told Ifiok Umoren what happened, She decided to reach the person that called for the job offer with the same number Late Umoren gave to her, but it was switched off.
Uduak Umoh said Ifiok Umoren forwarded that same phone number and when She used it on True Caller, the Name “Uduak Ezekiel Akpan” came up, adding that the profile picture of Uduak-Abasi Akpan, the principal suspect in the murder case was got from his Facebook page.
She further narrated how, one Miriam Akpan on the Social media saw the first accused person’s picture and identified as same person who also invited her for a fake job interview in his hometown Nung Ikono Ufot, Uruan LGA, where he sexually assaulted her, took her nude pictures and seized her phone with the help of his elder sister, the third accused person Bassey Anwan Akpan.
When asked during cross examination by Samson Adula, Counsel to the first accused person, if She was not anywhere in Akwa Ibom State on that April 29, 2021?, Uduak Umoh responded , “Yes, I was not”
Also asked if she was invited by the police in the course of the investigation? Umoh who responded, “Yes I was” and however told the Court that, She never gave the police her phone for the purpose of the investigation.
Also in her testimony, the 4th Prosecution witness (PW4), and the deceased elder sister, Ifiok Ephraim Umoren told the Court on Monday how She and police team on April, 30 were able to locate the village residence of her late sister’s alleged murderer, Uduak-Abasi Akpan, using the description given to Miss Uduak Umoh, PW3, by Miriam Akpan.
Ifiok Umoren also told the Court that according to the description of the location, Miriam Akpan said she was taken to when the first accused person allegedly lured her with similar fake job offer, was uncompleted building with a black gate, and that there is a townhall and a church beside it.
“On reaching the village, Nung Ikono Ufot with the police team, we saw all the features She Miriam described to Uduak Joseph Umoh. The Police knocked on the gate but nobody came to open it. The policeman now jumped into the compound, and opened the gate from the inside. When we were in the compound, as we approached the building, we saw the second accused person come of from the building.
“When Police asked him about the owner of the house, he said he is the owner. Already, I have the picture of the first accused person in my phone. The police took my phone and showed the second accused person and then asked him if he knows the person and he (Frank Akpan) answered yes, that he is his son. And when police asked about the sons whereabout, he told them that he traveled to Lagos”
She noted that on May1, 2021 after expiration of 48hours the Police asked her come for her statement and when she got to the Anti-Kidnapping Unit , State Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo, she was told that, upon arrest of the principal suspect Uduak-Abasi Akpan he confessed killing her sister Iniubong and burying her in a shallow grave in the family compound, in Uruan LGA.
However during cross examination she told the court that she does not have complaint against the second and third accused persons.
In his remarks, Justice Bassey Nkanang appealed to Lawyers to take steps towards reviewing the 48 hours rule on Police investigation of missing persons, as such could save lives of those in danger.
The Court admitted in evidence, the photograph of the exhumed body of Iniubong Umoren as exhibit and also requested that the official witnesses Dr. Emeka Nwafor the Medical Doctor at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), who carried out the autopsy on late Umoren corpse and the Investigation Police Officer, Inspector Samuel Udoh be informed that they shall appear in court today, November 16, 2021.
The defendants Uduak-Abasi Akpan, his father Frank Akpan and sister are being prosecuted by Akwa Ibom State government for offences bothering on murder, rape and accessory after the fact to murder.