By Chioma Onuegbu Uyo
The first accused person, Uduak-Abasi Akpan, in the alleged rape and murder of 26-year- old Akwa Ibom jobseeker, Miss Iniubong Ephraim Umoren, has denied knowing the deceased.
The alleged serial rapist while opening his defense on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 also denied knowing one Miriam Godwin Akpan and Blessing Sunday, who the prosecution had alleged were also his (Uduak-Abasi) rape victims.
The first accused person who is standing trial before Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, made the denials when his Lawyer, Samson Adula asked him to tell the court what he knows about the charges of rape and murder of Iniubong Umoren levelled against him.
He said: “My Lord, I do not know Miss Iniubong Umoren. I only came to know that name when I was served with the proceedings of this trial at the correctional center (Prisons).
” For the second charge of rape, my Lord, I do not know anything about rape. I have never raped anybody”
On the alleged rape of one Miriam Godwin Akpan and Udosen Blessing Sunday, the accused person said: “I do not know those two names. My Lord I can say that the allegations by Miriam Godwin Akpan and Blessing Sunday were mere set up”
But during cross examination when the Prosecuting Counsel, Christopher Udoh, asked the accused person if he remembered that when he was brought to court for trial on July 26, 2021 in respect of late Umoren’s case that he had pleaded guilty to the charge of murder, and ‘not guilty’ to rape, he told the Court that he was feeling traumatized that very day.
He added that he pleaded guilty to the charge of murder because the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) Archibong had asked him to plead guilty.
He further told the court during cross examination that when he visited his father
Mr. Frank Akpan (second accused person)
on the 29th of April, 2021, that both of them left the compound together.
Asked between him and his father who returned to the House first, he said: “I am not sure when my father went back to the House. I never went back to the House. My Lord, I spent the night in the house of my relative, Agnes Timothy Inyang at Osongama Estate, Uyo”
The accused person while opening his defense, said when he left his family compound at Uruan LGA, on that April 29th that he went for a business, to see one Engr Gregory Udofia in Uyo, whom he claimed wanted to sell his property in town.
He further told the Court that the next day being April 30, 2021 he traveled to Calabar, Cross River State to visit her younger sister Anwan-Bassey Akpan, the third accused person.
He said while he was in his Sisters House, ” I got a call from one of My cousins Ndanti who told me that he Saw my father (second accused person) being taken away by policemen in a Sienna Car.
“I started calling my father’s phone but there was no response. Then I put a call across to one of my Cousins hon. Iniobong Ekpenyong (PW1). When I called his line was busy, so I decided to call another of my Cousin Mr. Kufre Effiong (PW2) .
“And when I got him (Effiong), he asked whether I have not logged into Facebook, and I told him that I don’t use Facebook. He insisted that I should find a way to log into Facebook that there was something going on. So I used my younger Sister’s Facebook account and I saw my pictures all over Facebook about a missing person, that I am a Wizard.
“I now called my cousin Mr. Effiong, he said I should try as soon as possible to come to Uyo. My Lord when I arrived Uyo, I went to my friends place at Shelter Afrique I called him back. He then asked me about my location and I told him and he said he will come and pick me.
“Àfter about 15mins he came to Shelter Afrique and I followed him in his vehicle. He said my cousin Hon. Iniobong Ekpenyong wanted to see me. So we went to Mr. Ekponyong’s House at Ewet Housing estate”
He further told the Court that when Ekponyong showed him the Facebook posts in his phone and asked him what he knows about late Iniubong Umoren, he had told him that he was not aware of the allegations about the missing person.
Uduak-Abasi said his cousin Ekpenyong after told him to follow the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Uruan LGA who was already there in Ekponyong’s residence, who then took him to the Anti-kidnapping unit, State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) at the command’s Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia, Uyo.
The trial judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang adjourned the case till April 11 and 12, 2022 for continuation of trial.