Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, today erupted in wild jubilation as the Akwa Ibom State High Court 5, presided over by Justice Philomena Etim, discharged and acquitted a former member of the state executive council, accused by the state government of murdering two brothers, Emmanuel and Mathias Ekpenyong.
Chris Ekong, a professor of economics at the University of Uyo, had been standing trial for the gruesome murder of two brothers alongside four others – David Uboh, Joe Ekong, Itoro Williams and Fabian Ekpenyong, the only surviving brother of the deceased, who narrowly escaped being murdered with his brothers.
Ekong, nicknamed “Hotrico” in football circles in the state, was a former commissioner for sports and youth development in the Victor Attah administration, and later commissioner for economic development and leader of the economic team of Governor Godswill Akpabio’s government,
The accused persons, famously known as “Uyo Five, who have been standing trial since 2009, received a clean bill of health after the trial judge gave a no-case submission in their favour.
Delivering the judgment, which lasted over two hours, Justice Etim discharged and acquitted the accused persons, a development that threw Uyo and its environs into wild jubilation.
Martin Ekpenyong, the son of one of the murdered brothers said after the judgment, “This is a clear sign that there is hope for the common man. My uncle was lucky to have escaped the assassins’ bullets, but some persons decided to plot evil machinations to kill innocent persons for a crime they know nothing about.
“God has proven that the just shall live by faith. The judge has vindicated the judiciary. She has strengthened our resolve to believe more in the Nigerian judiciary. God will bless her for standing by the truth, and not yielding to pressures from evil people. The family is happy today that its ordeals are over.”
In her judgment, Mrs Etim said there was no evidence strong enough to convict the accused persons, pointing out that “the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.”