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Iniubong Umoren: I didn’t sign statement voluntarily – Uduak Akpan tells Court

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Uduak Akpan, the prime suspect in the murder of Iniubong Umoren, a graduate of Philosophy from the University of Uyo, has told an Akwa Ibom State High Court presided over by Justice Bassey Nkanang that he was tortured to sign a statement given to him at the Department of State Services (DSS).

At the resumed hearing on trial in Uyo, the State capital, on Wednesday, the suspected murderer said he signed the statement to avoid more slaps and beatings from DSS officers.

The trial judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang, had adjourned the case, for a mini-trial to be conducted, in order to determine the voluntariness of that statement.

Recalled that counsel to Uduak Akpan, Barr. Sampson Adula, had, last week, objected to its admissibility on grounds that it was not made voluntarily.

Meanwhile, during his cross-examination during the mini-trial on Tuesday, Uduak-Abasi Akpan, who is charged with rape and murder on two counts, told the court that he only signed the statement (which he referred to as a sheet of paper) to avoid more slaps and beatings.

While the first accused admitted that he was the person speaking in the video CD played in court on Tuesday, he claimed that DSS officers gave him the answers and questions to rehearse prior to the video recording.

“They said I should practice those questions and answers, and when they start recording, I should give them the answers based on what I practiced,” Uduak-Abasi told the Court.

Uduak-Abasi Akpan had also denied making statements to two police officers, the IPO and the ASP, during the course of their investigation into the matter.

When cross-examined in the trial-within-a-trial on Tuesday, DSS investigator Ama Okeke (PW10) told the Court that the allegation that the first accused made the statement the Prosecuting Counsel sought to tender in evidence involuntarily was false.

According to the prosecution witness, the DSS has a standard interrogation room equipped with electronic gadgets such as cameras, recorders, pens, tables etc, where a suspect can relax and write or make a voluntary statement

“And when the first accused person was brought into this room, he was asked if he knew why he was in the DSS?” Okeke also testified, “My Lord, he had voluntarily told my team that it is because he killed Iniubong Ephraim Umoren.”

Witness also testified that the video recording of the first accused that was played in court was not the result of questions and answers, as the first accused person claimed, noting that his team only asked Uduak-Abasi Akpan to narrate what happened that led to Iniubong Umoren’s death.

The video Compact Disc (Video CD) that was played in Court was admitted into evidence as exhibit two in the trial-within-trial.

The trial Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang, adjourned the case until February 24 for a ruling on the trial-within-a-trial and the conclusion of PW10’s evidence.

Responding to questions from reporters after the court proceedings about what he expects from the mini-trial ruling, Samson Adula, the first accused person’s lawyer, said, “If I make any comment on that, it would amount to me being prejudicial.”

The Judge retains the authority to decide what to do, whether to admit it or not. I am unable to comment on the outcome because it is up to the court.

A defense lawyer’s job is not to defend at all costs. Its purpose is to ensure that all procedures are followed in a discrete manner.

On his part, State Deputy Director, Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Friday Itim, who noted that (PW10), and DSS investigator was the last witness for the prosecution, explained that the DSS’s involvement was necessary to ensure that nothing was swept under the carpet.

The prosecution, on the other hand, was perplexed as to why the first accused continued to claim that he was tortured into signing a statement while also denying making a statement in connection with the charge brought against him.

He explained that nothing in the video recording shown in court of Uduak-Abasi Akpan confessing to the DSS investigation team indicated that he was threatened or tortured.

“What we did today was finish the trial-within-a-trial because the accused claimed the Statement was not his.” We’d probably still be wondering if he was beaten, tortured, or not if we hadn’t seen the video.

“As a result, on February 24, the Court will issue its decision and conclude the evidence of PW10,” the Prosecution stated.

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