December 8, 2023

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Uduak Akpan: The Balance Of Justice

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Anietie Ukpe


After his arrest for the rape and murder of Iniobong Umoren, the police paraded Uduak Frank Akpan before journalists on the 14th day of May, 2021. He waxed philosophical: “The Commissioner of Police has told you that justice shall be done, so wait for justice to be done.” On August 4, 2022, slightly over a year after, justice was done. He was sentenced to death for murder, and to life imprisonment for rape. After his sentence, the man who urged patience for justice to be done attempted to escape justice. He made an attempt to bolt from the court to freedom.


All along, the chocolate-complexioned serial rapist, so short that his height barely meets the height requirement to join the police, had supreme confidence that everything would be okay – perhaps, with good reason. When the police paraded him, they treated him like a VVIP (a very very important prisoner). He was given a fine-looking chair, and he reclined in it like a bishop presiding over a tea party. He wore blue jean pants and a red designer T-shirt with the legend, “Mudder Squad” emblazoned on it. He spoke with calm assurance. He did not betray any hint of worry. The only trace that this was not a case of a yuppy politician holding a constituency briefing before journalists was that his hands were manacled in light handcuffs.


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He vaingloriously boasted to journalists that he used reverse psychology on his victim – a philosophy graduate he lured to her death with a scam job offer. The term “reverse psychology” caught the fancy of some policemen. They hailed him as a genius who used reverse psychology on journalists, expertly parried away their questions, and silenced them. But there was no reverse psychology in his speech to journalists, or in what he did to Iniobong Umoren! Reverse psychology subtly encourages a behavior or belief by advocating what is opposite to it. This was not the case with this spoilt brat who forcefully raped and murdered an innocent girl and buried her corpse in a shallow grave. What saner minds rather discerned from his speech, on that occasion, was a demented mind so warped in self-adulation and self-conceit that he believed he could talk his way out of any mess.


That was what played out in the course of his trial. He at first pleaded guilty to murder, then he made a volte-face and said he had a fever when he pleaded guilty. He denied all his confessional statements to the police and SSS, and claimed he made them under duress. In trials within trial, video recordings were provided to counter his claims. More so, he made the statements before his lawyer. When the shreds of evidence stacked up against him like a groundnut pyramid, he tried an ancient trick – he did not know the person he was alleged to have killed, and he did not know why he was in court. The father, who should have been ashamed to have brought such a sinister evil into this evil world, took up the cue, “My son has mental problems.” You read that right! The reverse psychologist was alleged not to be okay mentally. The real reverse psychology which, thankfully, did not work in the court.


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When this spoilt brat reviewed the case on the morning of judgment day, he perhaps figured that his infantile reverse psychology would work for him – again. He told someone that he was hoping to be discharged and acquitted because somewhere down the line, he would become a politician and contest for the office of governor of Akwa Ibom State. Do not cringe! He is a spoilt brat who has irresponsible parents, and believed he could get away with anything – murder and rape included. Talking to the press when he was paraded, he claimed to have raped at least six women, besides the late Iniobong Umoren. This evil genius, who speaks four Nigerian languages fluently, raped them in that House of Horror – the house he shared with his father, a retired deputy director in the Federal Civil Service. You cannot absolve his father of complicity in his son’s crimes, without convicting him of criminal fatherly negligence.


Asked in court on judgment day to make his allocotus or say something before his sentence, Uduak waxed philosophical again – the nation was embroiled in insecurity and the government knows about this. So why is there so much interest in his own case? Uduak, prince of darkness, the interest is that you exploited the economic mess in the country to lure a young, unsuspecting woman to her death. Listen Uduak, she could have been anybody’s sister or daughter. You are a threat to society and an enemy of human dignity. You truncated the dream of a young woman who spent four years studying philosophy and graduated with a good result but did not live long enough to receive her certificate or proceed for her national youth service. You are a threat to humanity and ordered social thought. You are a piece of evil and you have allowed your life to become an altar to satan.


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The court was packed full. Outside the court, thousands milled around waiting for the judgment. Police and prison security cauldron around the courtroom stretched in concentric circles to all the roads leading to the court and beyond. When the brilliant and scholarly judgment was delivered by the erudite Justice Bassey Nkanang sentencing evil Uduak to death, the crowd outside the court, some who peeked from windows, thundered happily alongside those in the courtroom, “As the court pleases!” Uduak made a dash for the door and the police stopped him. If Uduak Frank Umoren succeeded to escape from the court, the irate mob outside the court would have lynched him… and justice of a different kind (with fire and tire) would have been done before the justice pictured in the balance that the court decreed would ever have had the opportunity to be done.
In other words, reverse psychology would have led to reverse justice for a thoroughly nasty piece of evil.

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*Ukpe, DG of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation, wrote from Uyo

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