The self-confessed murderer, Uduak Akpan, has bluntly denied assaulting, raping and killing the Akwa Ibom jobseeker, Iniubong Umoren.
Mr. Akpan made the denial while taking a plea before Justice Bassey Nkanang of the Akwa Ibom State High Court holding in Uyo, the state capital.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Nkanang had called for fresh pleadings from the accused persons shortly after the state joined the prime suspect’s sister, Basseyawan as third accused person to the case.
The judge had just taken over the suit from Justice Bennet Illaumo, who had recently been transferred out of the court.
However, on Thursday, when the charges were again read to Mr. Akpan, he pleaded not guilty.
The no guilty plea by the accused person contradicts the earlier plea and the confession he freely and openly made when he was paraded before Journalists at the Akwa Ibom State Police Headquarters, Uyo on May 14, 2021.
Narrating what happened to journalists at the time, he said he was trying to have sex with late Miss Umoren but a scuffle ensured and he hit her on a stabilizer and she died.
“She (Miss Umoren) came for a supposed job interview in which I used reverse psychology on her. I asked her if she can work in a farm where hard drugs are kept as a secretary and she said she can and that she’s ready to do the job.
“When she came, I revealed to her that this farm does not exist. There is no farm like that. It was just a hoax. I told her that before she leaves that I would like to have sex with her and she agreed.
“She gave a condition that I should use a condom, which I did. While I removed the condom, she became furious. She took a nearby stabiliser to hit me on my head and she bit my left ring finger and tried to reach for the wall, screaming.
“While I was bleeding, in a bid to stop her, I used the same stabiliser to hit her. She fell and started bleeding,” Mr. Akpan had freely confessed.
He also confessed to having used the same ‘reverse psychology’ on not less than six women in the past, although he stated that Ms Umoren is the only one he had killed.
The Chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, Iniobong Ekpnyong, who was summoned by the court on Tuesday, was admitted to the dock shortly after Mr. Akpan pleaded not guilty.
While giving evidence, the council boss said he used his position as the chief executive and security officer of Uruan to extract the truth from Mr. Akpan after he committed the murder.
He said that at about 2p.m on April 30, 2021, shortly after he returned from work, his attention was drawn to a disturbing story about the killing, within his council area, of a jobseeker, Miss Umoren.
It was when he heard that the prime suspect’s father, Frank Akpan, was being held by the police without his medications that he demanded that he (Uduak) should be brought to him for questioning.
He said Uduak initially denied the killing in the presence of Kufre Ekpenyong, his cousin and the Divisional Police Officer in Uruan.
“At the veranda of my house, he told us that he lost contact with the late Iniobong Umoren at Ibiaku Junction in Uruan. He claimed what the social media was saying about him was not true.
“At one point he wasn’t comfortable with the presence of the DPO and DSP Akwa and asked to see me and Kufre inside my parlour. I told him to tell me the truth as I will use my position to assist him.
“I asked Uduak where the girl is?. He said the girl is no more. We were shocked, and asked him what happened? The girl hit me with something and I hit her back. Uduak had told me and Kufre in my parlour,” the council boss told the court.
Meanwhile, the father of the first accused, Frank and the sister, Basseyanwan (Florence) were arraigned as second and third accused persons, respectively.
However, Basseyanwan is accused of habouring the first accused person in her home in Calabar, Cross River State, a move that made it difficult for the police to arrest him.
Counsel to the first accused (Uduak), Samson Adula of the Akwa Ibom State Legal Aid Council said it was immaterial whether his client earlier pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him.
“Given the nature of the offence the first defendant is standing trial for, even when he pleaded guilty before, a plea of not guilty was entered for him.
It does not, therefore, matter whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty. It has nothing to do with the court. It is left for the prosecutor to prove its case now against him,” Mr. Adula said.
However, counsel to Mr. Frank Akpan and Miss Florence Frank Akpan (second and third defendants, respectively, Emma Ekongson advised reporters to stop forcing lawyers to grant them interviews on the case.
According to him, such moves would only distract the court and promote sensationalism, adding that reporters should wait for the court to deliver judgment on the case instead of carrying out a media trial.
A former Akwa Ibom Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner, Uwemedimo Nwoko, (SAN) who represented the deceased family and Ati Annang socio-cultural group, said he was happy with the way the trial was going.
“The trial is just commencing and it is not time to say much as it relates to the trial. But I can say something about the procedure. As for today, two witnesses have testified. The prosecution is doing well, the court has managed the case very well so emotions are low,” Mr. Nwoko said.
“It is a case that attracts a great deal of public sentiment and I appreciate His Lordship for the sacrifice he is going to put up, his industry and time. Given the nature of this case, it is important that it should be dispensed with as quickly as possible.”
The court had adjourned the case to Monday November 15, for continuation of hearing while the accused persons were taken back to Uyo Correctional Center for custody.