Even though Mr Uduak Fank Akpan, the killer boy who cut short the life of a job seeker, Iniobong Umoren, has been sentenced to death by hanging by an Uyo high court, he is not likely to be hanged in the immediate future, TNN has learnt.
Although, the Akwa Ibom State government is angry that the killer rubbished the name of the state and its people, but there is little they can do now. TNN learnt that the governor, Udom Emmanuel cannot sign his execution warrant because the boy needs to be allowed time to exhaust the window available to him for appeal.
Besides, there are no hangmen in Akwa Ibom State. TNN also learnt that the correctional centres in Uyo and Ikot Ekpene do not have the facilities to keep convicts on death row. He is likely to be moved to Port Harcourt, the closest centre with such facilities.
While once on death row, he may be pursuing his appeal at the appellate court and even up to the apex court. But his lawyer, Adula Samson told TNN in a telephone interview that the convicted killer is yet to brief him about going on appeal, even though he said he defended him at the high court without earning a kobo, because the court nominated him to defend him. Samson is the Legal Aide Council.
He also spoke to TNN about his sad experiences while defending Uduak, even as he said his family faced so much danger while the trial lasted (see full interview in this edition).
The state commissioner for justice, Uko Udom, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, in an online interview with TNN however hinted that as the prosecuting counsel, he saw the conviction coming. He however assed trhat Uduak may be given a lawyer by the court to defend him on appeal, if he had none, because it was the proper and legal thing to do.
This is how the conversation went:
The court in Uyo convicted the killer of Iniobong Umoren today. He is to die by hanging. How is the government taking the judgement? Did you see it coming?
We definitely saw the conviction coming, and the government is delighted with it. It sends a very strong and timely message that the wheels of Justice grind effectively.
How long will it take for the governor to take action on the judgement? How disposed is the he to accenting to the court judgement for the murderer to be hanged?
The governor will not take any action on the conviction until the convict exhausts his constitutional right of appeal right up to the Supreme Court. It is mandatory that a conviction with a death sentence is appealed up to the Supreme Court. If the convict has no lawyer, one is appointed for him by the court.
Are there hangmen in Akwa Ibom? Where is he likely to be executed?
There are currently no hangmen in Akwa Ibom State. Port Harcourt is where convicts from here awaiting execution are kept.
What lessons are there on this, for Akwa Ibom people, especially for young boys and girls?
It is so sad that the social and moral fabric of our society has been so destroyed that the dividing line between right and wrong is blurred and indistinguishable. Parents have lost control, and cult activities have lured young people into a world that glorifies criminality. Rape and murder, to them is like a rite of passage.
As the chief law officer of the state, what will you recommend to the governor in your report to him, on this judgement?
My recommendation to the governor would be that we contest the appeal doggedly to ensure that the conviction and sentence are sustained up to the Supreme Court.
Your said that the government will pursue the appeal doggedly. At the court today, you had said the government will study the judgement as regards the two other persons(his father and the sister) that were discharged and acquitted. What will you be asking for, at the apex court?
I can’t answer that until we have had time to review that aspect of the judgment.
Last year when Uduak’s father was arrested by the police, he had expressed disappointment in the son’s conduct and, apparently aware that the offence attracted a death penalty, he had said that the boy should be killed.
The Daily Post had quoted the father, on May 15, 2021, that he never believed his son could kill, having brought him up in a Christian way. ”I never believed such a thing can happen to me because I brought this children up in a righteous way.
“The police stormed my house in search of Uduak but didn’t see him. I was invited to come and answer some questions at the police station and when I got to the station, I was asked to call him.
“When he came back to Akwa Ibom, I was allowed to interact with him and that was when he told me that he committed an offense.
“I was disappointed, I scolded him and asked why he committed such a crime knowing fully well he has two sisters that are equally students and are both in school.
“I felt bad because I know they are women too and I wouldn’t want such fate to befall them too. It’s just unfortunate that this had to happen. I never knew that this is what he does and I’m not in any way involved in this particular act.
“I was never aware of his previous acts because I haven’t fully been with them. We just relocated from Abuja and I also retired because I’m a government worker. I haven’t been around for close to 30 years now.
“I’m not happy about what my child has done. I don’t even believe this can happen to me after all the years of toiling to send them to school and ensure they get the best. It depends on the system and if they say the penalty for his crime is death, then he should face the full wrath of the law.”