A police officer attached to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department SCIID, Homicide Section, Kanu Ekpezu, has testified before Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo in the ongoing trial of Uduak-Abasi Akpan, Mr. Frank Akpan and Anwan-Bassey Akpan, over the murder of Iniubong Umoren.
Ekpezu, who appeared in court as the ninth Prosecution Witness (PW9) told the court that the Anti-kidnapping Unit, Ikot Akpan Abia Uyo, handed over Uduak-Abasi Akpan, his father,Mr. Frank Akpan, first and second accused persons respectively to the SCIID, and both made their statements by themselves.
He also told the court that the Anti-kidnapping Unit also handed over to him the following exhibits, a spade, a QLink stabilizer and a piece of dirty clothe which were recovered from the scene of murder.
The witness who further testified that Uduak-Abasi Akpan made his statement in the Senior Police Officers Office and not in an interrogation room, recalled that three other senior police officers including Inspector Ofonime Archibong were in the SPOs office when he (Uduak-Akpan) was writing his statement by himself.
“My Lord, the first accused person (Uduak-Abasi Akpan) was handed over to me from the Anti-kidnapping Unit, Ikot Akpan Abia, on 2nd day of May 2021. I received him in the SPOs (Snr. Police Officers) office. The first accused person made his statement by himself in the SPOs office voluntarily, and not in an interrogation room.
“I gave him my table and chair to sit and write his statement. I gave the first accused person a statement form and pen and asked him to write what happened and how late Iniubong Ephraim Umoren died in his house. I was not with a cane, nor with a machet, a gun, a stick, or an axe”, Ekpezu testified.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Friday Itim, tendered the spade,QLink stabilizer and piece of clothe, which were admitted in evidence and marked as exhibits 9, 10, and 11 respectively by the trial judge, Justice Nkanang.
But when the prosecution sought to also tender the confessional statement of Uduak-Abasi Akpan, his lawyer Mr. Samson Adula, raised an objection, arguing that his client did not sign the statement voluntarily.
Upon the insistence of Adula that the statement allegedly written and read by his client should not be admitted in evidence by the court until its voluntariness was determined, Justice Nkanang ordered that mini trial be conducted.
During cross examination, PW9 told the Court that it is not true that the confessional statement made by the first accused person were responses from the questions the police officers had asked him.
He further testified that the second accused person, Mr. Frank Akpan, was not there in the SPOs office when the first accused person made his statement.
Asked if the accused was video recorded while he was writing his statement, PW9 simply responded, “No my Lord”
When cross-examined in the dock, the first accused person Uduak-Abasi Akpan, denied writing the statement and also told the court that he was just meeting ASP Kanu Ekpezu for the first time.
Uduak-Abasi Akpan equally denied seeing and knowing the content of the statement, insisting that he signed the statement involuntarily.
“When they brought that sheet of paper which I did not see, or know what was inside, they now asked me to sign the statement. In order to avoid further violence on myself I signed it”
Asked if he was blind-folded when he signed the statement, Uduak-Abasi Akpan responded, “I was not blind-folded”
The trial Judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang, adjourned the case till February 8, 2022 for ruling on the mini trial, and for continuation of hearing.
Meanwhile, Abasiodiong Ekpenyong Esq has been appointed to take over as lawyer to the second and third accused persons, following the withdrawal of Emms Ekongson from the case.