20-year-old Uduakabasi Akpan and his father, Frank Akpan, have been arraigned before the Akwa Ibom State High Court 6, on a three-count charge of murder, rape and accessory after the facts.
The duo is joined as first and second accused persons in suit no. HU/87c/ 2021 between the state versus the accused persons.
The accused are standing trial before the court, having been accused of allegedly murdering one Iniobong Umoren, a 26-year-old graduate of philosophy of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Umoren was lured, abducted and later murdered on April 29, 2021, by the first accused, Uduakabasi Akpan, in the pretext of offering her a job, an offence which is punishable under section 326(1) of the criminal code, cap 33 vol.2, laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria,2000 and rape which is contrary to section 367 of the criminal code,cap 38 vol,2 of the Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria,2000.
However, when the charges were read during the arraignment, the first accused pleaded guilty to the murder charge but pleaded not guilty to the second charge bordering on rape.
His father Frank Akpan who is being prosecuted on a one-charge of accessory after the facts, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Consequently, the court presided over by Justice Bennett Illaumo adjourned the matter to August 18, 2021, for further hearing of the offence.
Speaking with reporters shortly after the proceedings, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Uko Udom (SAN) assured the public that justice would be done.
He said capital offence does not carry any time bar adding that in the next ten years or more anybody found guilty in the same matter can still be prosecuted
“In criminal prosecution, we rely on the evidence from the investigations brought by the official investigators of the case. We have gone through all the investigation reports by all security operatives that handled the investigation. Currently, the two that have been arraigned today are people that we have sufficient evidence to prosecute.
“Count 3 is talking about accessory after the facts. If someone commits an offence and another person assists that person in an attempt to evade justice, you are charged as accessory after the facts
“We can guarantee the public that there will be a fair trial and that justice will be done at the end of the day.
“And let people not start wondering about all kinds of stories. In criminal prosecution, there is no time bar to criminal culpability. If tomorrow, even 10 years from now, evidence comes out that can tie anyone who is not charged today to this crime, that person will still be charged,” he said
Speaking also with journalists, Counsel to Uduak Akpan, the first accused person Barrister Samson Abdullah said, “Before now, I have had no contact with the first accused. It is just today that I took over the defence of the accused.
“The court called me to put up an appearance for the first accused person which I did graciously in line with the mandate of the counsel.”
Emms Ekongson appeared for the second accused person, Frank Akpan