From Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has sentenced three persons to death for their involvement in the gruesome murder of four students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Choba, on October 5, 2012.
The court also discharged and acquitted four persons whose cases were not proved “beyond all reasonable doubt” by the prosecution in the matter.
The trial judge, Justice Letam Nyordee, who delivered the judgment yesterday, convicted ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi (aka Kapoon) and Chinasa David Ogbada for their active involvement in the murder of the four students.
Justice Nyordee also freed Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe, Abang Cyril and John Awuru, whose cases were not proved “beyond all reasonable doubt” by the prosecution.
The deceased, Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd Mike, Tekena Elkannah and Chiadika Biringa, were dehumanised and murdered in a mob action in Omuokiri, Aluu community, in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state on Friday, October 5, 2012.
Twelve suspects were arraigned before the state court on August 1, 2013, based on report by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Five of the suspects, including the traditional ruler of Umuokiri, Alhaji Hassan Welewa, were discharged and acquitted on January 27, 2017.
Seven of the suspects, Saviour Johnny, Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, (aka Kapoon) David Chinasa Ogbada, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe and Cyril Abang were denied bail based on the fact that their case was a capital offence.
Justice Nyordee, while delivering judgment yesterday, noted that the prosecution counsel was able to prove the involvement of the three persons with the video evidence presented to the court.
The judge said evidences given against Orji, Amadi and Ogbada were overwhelming, adding that their statements, in the murder of the deceased, were confirmed in the video evidence obtained from Youtube and used for prosecution.
He ruled that the evidence of Yusuf, Ekpe, Cyril and Awuru justified their position that they were not involved actively in the murder, adding that it was corroborated by the video evidence presented of the prosecution, which only captured the presence of the suspects at the scene of the incidence.
The trial judge insisted that role played by the three convicted persons in the murder were unjustifiable and pointed out that their actions were intended to terminate the lives of the victims, stressing that first, second and third defendants were guilty of murder.
Making reference to Section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, he sentenced the three to death for taking the lives of other persons unjustifiably.
Justice Nyordee maintained that the death of the four students was the most condemnable and could not be justified and sais the victims had great hope and future for their families and the society.
He declared: “I, hereby, sentence ex-sergeant Lucky Orji to death; I, hereby, also sentence Ikechukwu Louis Amadi (aka Kapoon) to death; and I, hereby, also sentence David Chinasa Ogbada to death.”
He berated security agencies for failing to play their role of protection of lives and upholding of law seriously and regretted that the security personnel at the scene of the crime could not save the situation.
The judge said no explanation would ever be valid on why the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), the Aluu police post, Isiopko divisional police headquarters and C4I security outfits, which were beckoned and were present, could not mobilise to rescue the victims, whose allegation of robbery could not be proved, during the unlawful prosecution.
He, however, added that the decision of the court would serve as a deterrent to those who take human lives without recourse, adding that human life should be protected.
The Aluu 4 murder trial lasted for about five years, caused mainly by the closure of the state judiciary by the administration of the immediate past governor, Chibuike Amaechi.
The trial resumed at the assumption of office by Governor Nyesom Wike, who ordered the opening of the judiciary complex on June 1, 2015