Threat to Akpabio’s Life: Dr. Ime Umanah Wins Again.

6 Jul

BY NDON ASIAN

The Akwa Ibom State Government found itself at a cross road in the ongoing trial of Dr. Ime Sampson Umanah as Hon. Justice Ifiok Ukana ruled to reject the statement of the first accused person in the trial within trial. This is the second time that the same statement has been ruled upon and marked “rejected” in a second trial within trial.

Akpabio and Ime Umanah.

The first was by the Honourable State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Idongesit Ntem Isua, whose earlier ruling has now been vindicated. Hon. Justice Ukana in a detailed and very well considered ruling captured every argument, evidence led, cross examination and important issues relevant to arriving at the conclusion in the mini-trial. Much of what rendered the case of the state against Ime Umanah and Ikemesit Iyire in the trial within trial hopelessly doomed included evidence of what transpired at the place of arrest of DW 1 (Mr. Ikemesit Iyire) before the departure from Ikot Ekpene to Uyo and inside the bus, which were not challenged nor contradicted.

It is instructive to observe that throughout the trial within trial the state either failed or neglected to have any of the operatives who effected the arrest of the first accused testify as one of its witnesses.

Again, the Court noted that the only version of event which transpired before and after DW1 was taken before the state Director of SSS is that of DW1, concluding that the state failed to cross-examine DW1 in respect of his narration of the event, that is the meeting with the Director. “The prosecution is divided as to whether the two pages of the statement are in the same ink. There is no evidence from the prosecution particularly PW1 (Uche Nwokolo) who said he supervised the taking of the statement that as the statement was being written by DW1 he encountered problem with the writing material he was using.

That evidence should have come from him but he did not offer any such explanation”, the Court pointed out on the issue of different shades of ink on the two pages of the alleged confessional. On the mutilated date on the confessional statement form signed by PW 3 (DSP Moses Eno), the Court had the following to say, “I have looked at the said confessional statement form. Directly after PW3 signature is his rank DSP next to it is the mutilated date. It shows a superimposition of 5 on 3 with 2 in front of 5 to achieve 25.

Thereafter you find a doctoring of 0 to 1 with another 1 in front obviously to change 11 to 10, all to present to this Court 25/10/2010 as against 3/11/2010. I have said that every document speaks for itself. What the confessional statement form has spoken with respect to the date written by PW3 is that it is mutilated, changed from 3/11/2010 to 25/10/2010”. And for the second time PW3 was said not to be a truthful witness. “Using this to assess the evidence of PW3 is without wasting words, is to say that PW3 is not a witness of truth. I cannot believe him”, the Court noted.

On the urge by lead defense counsel, Samuel Ikpo Esq. that the Court should expunge the evidence of Uche Nwokolo from the record of proceedings in the trial within trial, Justice Ukana ruled that “PW1 was listed as a witness in the main trial to that extent he could be accommodated in the trial within a trial. However given his reaction to the statement filed along with the notice of additional evidence on 12/7/2013 where PW1 distanced himself from the statement credited to him PW1 cannot be the person through whom any document considered fit can be admitted as exhibit in the main trial”. In the end the Court held that, “Arising from the totality of the foregoing I hold that the statement of the 1st accused person who is DW1 in this trial which statement is dated 25/10/2010 was not voluntary. It was a product of inducement. If the statement of 25/10/2010 is not voluntary, the confessional statement form cannot validate it and cloth it with a toga of voluntariness given its own problem.

Consequently the statement credited to the 1st accused and dated 25/10/2010 and the confessional statement form shall both be marked rejected”. The ruling has not only laid to rest the controversy which surrounded the statement but has additionally limited the options of the state to four. The state may proceed to appeal in what may certainly amount to an exercise in delay and waste of time or it may continue into the main trial without any exhibit to found a conviction.

The state may also wish, as a face saving measure, to enter a nully prosecui through the Attorney General, to discontinue the case or commence the trial afresh in another Court, but this option may be impossible to explain to Court why there should be no end to litigation. Speaking shortly after the ruling one Daniel Uko from Abak among the many consistent faces that had followed this trial who spoke with Weekly Insight praised the boldness and forthrightness of the Judge whom he described as “very intelligent and acting without fear or favour”. Uko also praised the defense team particularly Samuel Ikpo Esq. and wondered why the government should not read “the handwriting on the wall and save itself from the embarrassment of losing after this many years in court”, to withdraw. The state was represented by Mary Okobo (Mrs) while Samuel Ikpo Esq led a team of seven layers for the defense.

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