By CHIOMA IGBOKWE
Integrated Coalition for Human Rights has described the death sentence passed on the founder and General Overseer of Christian Praying Assembly, Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo a.k.a Rev. King, as a travesty of justice and not in tune with modern day trials.
The Coalition said in a statement signed by Dr. Raphel Umoren that the trial, prosecution and the eventual conviction by the Supreme court of Nigerian falls short of all known legal procedure which warrants death sentence and called on the powers that be to commute the sentence without delay.
Noting that the arrest of Rev. King from the first day after the ugly incident in 2006, was fraught with excessive power and indiscretion by the police, the Coalition stated that; “We will loose sense of history if we fail to record the misdemeanour and abuse of power by the police from day one. It is on record that the SARS team that invaded his house after the allegation made away with over N5.5m church harvest without warrant. Even after he was arraigned at the magistrate court on a 2-count charge of conspiracy, attempted murder of 7 members of his church, one of the female prosecution witnesses conspired with police and slammed an assault suit against him inside the court room while another witness said on oath that Rev. King never poured fuel on anybody and that was why she was not used at the trial in the high court.
“It is also on record that some of the witnesses told the medical doctor at the clinic where they were rushed to after the incident that the deceased sustained the injury through generator accident. However, this was ignored by the trial judge who hinged his judgment on fabricated fallacies even when the deceased maintained in her statement that Dr. King was not at the scene of the incident. One of the interested parties in the case who earlier claimed that Dr. Kings abducted his wife is on record as the first person that visited the deceased in the hospital begging her to implicate Dr. King promising to fly her overseas for medical treatment yet she declined. However, after her death, her two statements in police letter-headed papers disappeared mysteriously and in its place, a full scape sheet was used to fabricate what was said to be her statement. This is in spite of the fact that no police station recorded anycase of murder against Dr. King.
“One of the witnesses was coerced to testify against Dr. King for her freedom but after that, she came to Ikoyi prison where Dr. Kings was being detained to beg for forgiveness. All these salient but weighty points were tabled before those that adjudicated in the case yet they ignored them and sentenced the Rev to death at various stages of his trial.
“Our concern is the yawing judicial lacuna created by the entire procedure which smacked of trial through public opinion and not backed by any known, cherished and respected judicial precedence. Worse still, the glaring ethnic colouration may not be wished away by discerning minds going by the kids-glove applied in the treatment of a similar but, nevertheless, more damaging case that involved another popular pastor in Lagos in which many souls were lost.”
The coalition, therefore, called for the immediate commutal of the death sentence without stringes attached with a view to not only ensuring that justice was done but, disabusing the minds of the general public over the entire trumped- up charges against Rev. King.