Uduak Frank Akpan, the alleged killer of a 24-year-old job seeker in Akwa Ibom State, Iniubong Umoren, has pleaded guilty to murder when he was arraigned before a State High Court judge in Uyo on Monday.
The 26-year-old suspect who was arraigned alongside his father, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge of rape.
Uduak Akpan was arrested in May by the Akwa Ibom State Police Command for allegedly raping, killing and burying the 24-year-old Iniubong, after he had lured her to a fake job interview.
The decessed had gone missing on Thursday, April 29, after she responded to a job vacancy at an undisclosed location along the Airport Road axis of Uyo, the state capital, and that was the last time her family heard from her.
Shortly after leaving home on the day she got missing, she had reportedly made a frantic phone call to her brother and a desperate voice note to her friend in Lagos.
It was the friend who then escalated the issue on Twitter which was picked by many Nigerians and was broadcasted severally, drawing the attention of the police, leading to a manhunt being mounted for the alleged suspect before he was arrested a few days later.
Before the suspect was arraigned in court, there were speculations that the police was shielding him following undue pressure from some top politicians in the state.
Other insinuations were that the case had been transferred to the Department of State Services (DSS) which forced the state police command to come out to debunk protecting the suspect.
While addressing a press conference, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) SP Odiko Macdon, said the case file was at the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) and not with the DSS, while the suspect was remanded in the State Correctional Centre at Ikot Ekpene.
“It would amount to sheer folly for the police to hands-off the case after going through the hurdles of arresting the suspect under 24hours of allegedly committing the crime, exhuming the victim’s corpse and subjecting the same for autopsy.”
“It is only the police that are empowered by law to handle such cases, and we can’t abdicate our responsibilities.
“What we have now is enough to prosecute and secure conviction; only the police are empowered by law to handle such cases. So why should we transfer the case to DSS?
“Let me assure you that the Command will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all those cases are prosecuted logically because we have carried out the autopsies and have the result.”