In this article we are going to be looking at the true crime story of Uduak Akpan an undergraduate of University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom state in the south southern part of Nigeria, and how he lure Iniubong Umoren, a female Philosophy graduate from the University of Uyo with fake job interview and rape her to death.
It all started in April 29, 2021 when Ms Iniubong Umoren went missing after she was lured out of her home in Uyo with a fake job interview by Uduak Akpan. The victim’s friend, Ms Umoh, said she heard her scream for help when she established contact with her on the phone.
“She sent me a 1 second audio record on WhatsApp and I had to call her back to know if she wanted to say something to me but immediately I called her, I heard her screaming,” Ms Umoh had tweeted during the search for the slain woman, Ms Iniubong Umoren. Several Nigerians raised alarm on Twitter to see how they could track the missing woman’s location or uncover the identity and location of the person she went to meet.
The police later exhumed Ms Umoren in a shallow grave on 30th April, 2021, a day after she was raped and killed at Mr Uduak Akpan’s family compound.
Her gruesome murder ignited international and nationwide outrage over increasing rape cases in Nigeria. Ms Iniubong Umoren, before her death, was a fresh Philosophy graduate of the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom state. She was waiting for her deployment for the mandatory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Programme when the tragedy happened to her. Ms Iniubong Umoren did not live to see her mobilization letter for the programme or even her final year result, she graduated as one of the top students in her department.
The State High Court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, later sentenced Uduak Akpan to death after finding him guilty of raping and murdering a female job seeker, Iniubong Umoren, in the state in April 2021. The judge, Bassey Nkanang, in his judgement, said the convicted man will be put to death by hanging. The presiding judge, Justice Bassey Nkanang also found Uduak Akpan guilty of rape and sentenced him to life imprisonment. The judge said the prosecution has proven beyond doubt that this is indeed a case of rape and murder against Uduak Akpan.
The presiding judge, however, discharged and acquitted the father and sister of Uduak Akpan, who were the 2nd and the 3rd defendants in the case. After the judge read out the judgment, the convicted rapist attempted to escape from the courtroom but was overpowered by security officials. The presiding judge Bassey Nkanang took over two hours to finish reading the judgment.
The convict, Uduak Akpan, first appeared in court on 26 July 2021 and pleaded guilty to murder, and not guilty to rape. The court, however, entered a not-guilty plea for the murder of Ms Iniubong Umoren.
The Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State, Uko Udom, who led the prosecution team, told reporters saying, “For a capital offence, an accused person pleading guilty is neither here nor there. As far as the law is concerned, he is not guilty until we (prosecution) prove our case. So if an accused person pleads guilty in a capital offence like this, the court normally would enter a plea of not guilty for him,” he stated.
Mr Uduak Akpan later made a U-turn during his trial and denied raping and killing Ms Iniubong Umoren.
He told the court that he had a “fever” the day he pleaded guilty and that it was the influence of his “IPO in the court” that made him plead guilty. He also denied the confessional statements he made to the police and added that a similar statement he made to the State Security Services (SSS) was done under duress.
But Mr Ama Okeke, a call data analyst with the State Security Service, who testified before the court, presented a video recording of Mr Uduak Akpan’s interview session which countered his claims. The court admitted the video as evidence. Mr Ama Okeke also told the court that from the agency’s call record analysis, Mr Uduak Akpan and Ms Iniubong Umoren were at the same cell record and location in Nung Ikono Obio in Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state before her gruesome murder.
He further told the court that the SSS investigations led to the arrest of Mr Uduak Akpan’s sister, Ms Bassey-awan who is the 3rd accused person. Ms Bassey-awan was arrested in Calabar, Cross River State. Besides his confessional statements to the police and the SSS, Mr Uduak Akpan, while he was paraded at the police headquarters in Uyo, told reporters how he lured and killed the victim.
In his testimony before the court to justify his son’s innocence, Mr Frank Akpan, the father of the convict, told the court that his son Uduak Akpan had a mental disorder and was an outpatient at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital. While Bassey-awan, in her testimonies, admitted that her brother Uduak Akpan visited her, but she stated that, as at the time of the visit, her brother was accused of kidnapping Ms Iniubong Umoren, from what she had learnt on Facebook. She told the court that she had asked her brother to go back to Uyo and clear his name.
However, Barr Sampson Adulla, a lawyer from the Legal Aid Counsel, provided a free legal service to Mr Uduak Akpan. Barr Sampson Adulla, while adopting his final written address, prayed the court not to rely on “weak facts” presented by the prosecution rather, they should discharge and acquit his client. He asked the court to disregard Mr Akpan’s confessional statement because “there was no witness to testify that his client committed the murder”.
However on the case of Uduak Akpan father and sister, Mr Frank and Ms Bassey-awan, Barr Sampson Adulla urged the court to discharge and acquit them because there was no evidence before the court that the two knew that Mr Uduak Akpan was being accused of murder. He had argued that at the time Mr Uduak Akpan visited her sister in Calabar, his alleged offence was kidnapping and not murder.
The prosecution counsel, Barr Friday Itim, a deputy director of public prosecution in the Ministry of Justice, Akwa Ibom State, had reminded the judge how Mr Uduak Akpan pleaded guilty to the charge of murder, but not rape, on his first court appearance in July 2021.
Barr Friday Itim had also drawn the court’s attention to the fact that the prosecution counsel had proven that there was communication between Mr Frank and her daughter (Bassey-awan) via text message on the day of the incident. The court had admitted the phone and text message as evidence.
After one year of trial in court, on 4th August 2022, the court discharged and acquitted Mr Frank Akpan and Bassey-awan, the father and sister of the suspect and set them free while the main suspect Uduak Akpan was found guilty of rape and murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for rape and then sentenced to death for murder.
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