A 27-year-old woman, Blessing Edet, was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in prison for stabbing Edet Ebong, her 33-year-old fiancé, to death over her refusal to wear an engagement ring. Edet was originally charged with murder but it was later commuted to voluntary manslaughter by the trial judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo.
The judge said: “By stabbing the deceased in the lower part of his abdomen, she did not intend to cause grievous harm to the defendant.
“The defendant has established factors necessary to prove self defence. I find that the defendant acted in self defence as she was a victim of unprovoked assault. The defendant is not guilty of murder, but I find her guilty of the involuntary manslaughter of Edet Ebong.
“Section 227 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State prescribes life imprisonment for the offence of involuntary manslaughter. This is a clear case of recklessness on the part of both the deceased and the defendant. I, hereby, sentence the defendant to 10-years imprisonment with no option of fine. The sentence will take effect from the month of August 2015, which is when she has been on custody.”
The prosecution, led by Mr F. Oyedale, had alleged that Edet committed the offence at 12.15 am on August 18, 2015 at her residence, No. 1, Falana St., Ogombo, Lekki, Lagos. Edet’s trial commenced on July 5, 2017 with five witnesses, including Esther Ebong, the sister to the deceased, a medical doctor and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) testifying for the prosecution. Edet was the sole witness in her defence on February 7.
According to Edet, the deceased came to her apartment at midnight and woke her up to request that she cook a meal for him. But she had refused because she was tired.
“Upon hearing that I was tired, he went into the kitchen and saw the engagement ring he gave me beside the stove. He became angry and asked why I was not wearing the ring. He broke a mirror and used part of it to stab me. I was bleeding and crying out to the neighbours for help. “During the scuffle I stabbed Ebong in his abdomen with a kitchen knife,” she said.
Before the sentence was passed, the defence counsel, Favour Eboh-Mgbehoma, asked the court to temper justice with mercy.
“We plead to the honourable court to put into consideration that the defendant could have ended up being the victim. She is a first time offender, a young woman who has her whole life ahead of her. She has been in custody since 2015 when she was 23-years-old and she had learnt all the bitter lessons of life,” Eboh-Mgbehoma said.