Iniobong Umoren: Withdrawal of defence lawyer from case stalls hearing

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The ongoing hearing on the trial of Uduak-Abasi Akpan, his father, and sister for the alleged murder of job seeker, late Iniubong Umoren was stalled on Friday, following the withdrawal of Counsel to the second and third accused persons from the case.
The second and third accused persons, Mr. Frank Akpan and his daughter, Bassey Anwan Akpan, are standing trial at Akwa Ibom State High Court, sitting in Uyo, on two-count of accessory after the fact of murder and harbouring of the first accused person in order to escape punishment respectively.

The lead Counsel Emms Ekongson, notified the Court of the termination of their representation of both of his clients on Friday in a letter addressed to the Clerk of the Court.
In the letter which was read before the Court by the Clerk, Ekongson noted that the decision to terminate their representation followed the failure of family of his clients to pay his fees.

During the court proceeding, Counsel to the first accused person, and Coordinator, Akwa Ibom State Legal Aid Council, Samson Adula, assured the court that through his office, he would contact another Lawyer to represent the two accused persons.
The trial Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang therefore urged Mr. Frank Akpan, second accused person to liaise with Samson Adula to connect him and his daughter to another Lawyer.

Nkanang adjourned the murder case till January 31, 2022, following an appeal by Samson Adula, that he would not be within the jurisdiction of the Court on the February 4 when the Court had initially fixed as next adjourned date for continuation of hearing.

However, responding to a questions from Vanguard on why he did not take over the defence of second and third accused persons, Samson Adula, explained that he could not have done so since he was not the one that handled it from the beginning.

His words: “Everybody has his own way of defence. I have my own way of putting up my defence, he (Ekongson) has his own way. And now he has withdrawn, let a neutral person come and continue from there.

“Remember we have taken about 8 Witnesses out of 12. So at this stage, it is not very comfortable for me since I didn’t start from the beginning, even though I have been present. My office by virtue of our Act, statutorily empowers us to assign such cases to Lawyers.

“There are some Lawyers that have approached us to assign criminal cases to them. We will contact a couple of them and anybody that is ready to handle this case, we will assign the person to come in and conclude the defence of the second and third accused persons.”

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