A member of staff of the Department of State Services, Akwa Ibom State Command, Ama Okeke, has tendered evidence before the State High Court sitting in Uyo.
The DSS officer, who appeared in court as the 10th Prosecution Witness, told the court that the first accused, Uduak Akpan, stuffed the deceased with a black cloth to cover her mouth and prevent her from shouting.
Okeke, who told the court that the first, second and third accused persons made their statements voluntarily on June 3, 2021, June 11, 2021, and September 23, 2021, respectively, adding that both the first and second accused persons were transferred to the DSS station, with their phones used for detailed analysis.
Okeke testified that, in the course of investigation, it was discovered that the first accused person (Uduak-Abasi Akpan) had a conversation with the late Iniubong Umoren.
He told the court, “My Lord, the first accused person (Uduak-Abasi Akpan) told our investigation team that Iniubong Umoren refused to have sex with him and struggled with him. He also told us that while the deceased was struggling with him that he observed that she sent a voice note to someone but didn’t know who she sent the voice note to.
“The first accused person also said the deceased repeatedly asked if he wanted to kill her and that he had told her only if she would allow him to have sex with her. He also told us that even when he overpowered the deceased, she told him that she would allow him only if he used a condom.
“The first accused person also told the investigation team that in the process of having sex with the deceased, he removed the condom and the deceased started struggling with him again. He said while he was still on top of the deceased, she carried an iron, and hit him on the forehead.
“He said that, in order not for the deceased to shout, he, Uduak-Abasi, now collected a black cloth, stuffed into her mouth, and tied her mouth. He said he then used a standby stabilizer and hit her on the abdomen. From that point, the first accused said the deceased started bleeding profusely. He told us that he became afraid as if she had already died.
“The first accused also said he used the jeans-trouser of the deceased to strangle her completely. The first accused told us that he now stepped out of the house and went to the compound, found a space, and dug a 3-feet grave, and then went back to where the body of the deceased was, dragged the body with her jeans-trouser tied on her neck to the dug grave.
“He further told the investigating team that he wrapped her (deceased) body with a blanket, and with her mouth still tied, and the Jeans on her neck and buried her in the grave. He further told us that the incident happened between 13:00 hours to 20:00 hours, on the 29th of April, 2021.”
The witness told the court that the first accused further told them that after burying the deceased in the shallow grave, he went back to where he killed Iniubong Umoren, cleaned the blood, and tidied up the place so that nobody would know what happened.
Okeke further testified that, in the course of their investigation, and also an interview with the first accused, he told them that the second accused person, Frank Akpan, who is his father, was not around when the incident happened.
Witness said Uduak-Abasi told them that, during the early hours of 30th of April, 2021, when he opened his Facebook page, he saw news with his picture and that of late Iniubong Umoren, trending that he was the one who kidnapped her.
“The first accused person said that it was what made him tell his father that he wanted to go to Calabar to meet the sister – the third accused person. My Lord, the first accused also told us that he travelled to Calabar through Oron, with a speed boat, taking along with him, the bag and phone of the deceased.
“He (first accused) said he dropped the bag and phone of the deceased in the third accused person’s house. He also said late Iniubong Umoren was not the first person he had lured to his house in Nung Ikono Obio,” Okeke testified.
Okeke further told the Court that with the confessional statement of the first accused, his team travelled to Calabar, and were able to track and recover the deceased’s Samsung Galaxy phone, adding that two persons who were arrested in respect of the phone were currently standing trial.
The trial Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang, admitted the Samson Galaxy phone tendered in evidence by the prosecution, and marked it as Exhibit 13.
Nkanang also admitted in evidence, two phones belonging to the first accused person, and two other Nokia phones belonging to the 2nd accused person; and marked the four phones as Exhibits 14, 15, 16 and 17.
However, the prosecution, at the point of tendering the confessional statement of the first accused person in evidence, his lawyer, Samson Adula, raised an objection on the grounds that the statement was not made voluntarily by his client.
Justice Nkanang adjourned the case till February 15, for a trial-within-trial to be conducted, so as to determine the claim of involuntariness of the statement.