Tony John, Port Harcourt
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has sentenced Ifeanyichukwu Maxwell-Dike and Ugochukwu Nwamiro to death by hanging without an option of fine for the gruesome murder of an eight-year-old girl, Chikamso Victory.
The trial judge, Justice Adolphus Enebeli, ruled that Maxwell-Dike, a 200-level student of the Department of Physics, University of Port Harcourt, and Nwamiro, should be hanged until they are dead.
The court also sentenced police sergeant Johnbosco Okoronze, who was found guilty of aiding the escape of Maxwell-Dike from police custody to a year imprisonment.
Justice Enebeli relied his judgement against the second defendant, Nwamiro, on the voluntary confessional statement made by the first defendant, Maxwell-Dike, who, in his four statements, maintained that he was asked to get the little girl’s sensitive human organs as part of fetish rituals for financial gain.
The court ruled that the prosecution proved his case beyond a reasonable doubt while insisting that the counsel for the first defendant, Lezina Ameagwa, in his first written address, did not deny the fact that his client did not commit the offence of murder, but plead insanity on behalf of the defendant.
The pronouncement by the judge caused the family of one of the convicts, Nwamiro, to break down in tears.
Meanwhile, speaking to journalists outside the court, the state prosecution counsel, Chidi Ekeh, described the verdict as a landmark judgement that has delivered justice for the state, the family of the victim and the soul of the departed.
On his part, counsel for the Nwamiro, John Ndah, expressed displeasure over the judgement, saying that he would appeal the verdict.
Counsel for ex-Sergeant Okoronze, Chikwele Bekewe, said he would consult with his client on either to go for an appeal or stick to the sentence.
Counsel for Maxwell-Dike, Ameagwa, said he might not appeal the matter because of the circumstances in the judgement.
It would be recalled that the victim, Chikamso, was murdered with her sensitive parts (including the left side of the breast and private part) chopped off. The incident occurred on August 18th, 2017.
Maxwell-Dike was apprehended by a local vigilante group in Eliozu community in Obio-Akpor Local Government and handed over to the Nigeria Police.
He later escaped from police custody and was rearrested in Jos, Plateau State.