By Akin Kuponiyi
A Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Friday affirmed the judgement of a Lagos High Court delivered on 11 January, 2007 that the General Overseer of Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (alias Rev. King) should die by hanging for the murder of Ann Uzoh, one his church members.
The lead judgement read by Justice Fatima Akinbami and supported by two other judges, Ibrahim Salauwa and Amina Augie, resolved all the grounds of the appeal against Rev. King.
In the grounds of the appeal filed by the appellant, his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, contended that the deceased, before her death, said Rev King had nothing to do with her death.
Ojo, in his evaluation of evidence, argued that there were contradictions in the evidences given by the witnesses.
Moreso, the appellant, through the case, proved the alibi that he was not at the scene of the incident.
However, all the grounds of the appeal were resolved against Rev. King because the judge said the witnesses gave evidences of how the victim was killed, especially the evidences from the 10 prosecution witnesses.
Some of the witnesses said that Rev. King ordered one of them to bring matches and ordered another to pour petrol on the victim before he set her on fire.
Another witness stated that Rev. King looked for the matches himself before setting fire on the victim.
However, all the witnesses unanimously stated that the victim was set on fire by Rev. King. Therefore, the judge said: “the contradictions in the evidences of the witnesses are not substantial in fact and material.
“The most important thing was that the essential ingredient of murder is the intention to kill. All the witnesses gave evidences of how Ann was burnt to death on 2 August, 2006. Twenty exhibits were gathered.”
In conclusion, Justice Akinbanmi said: “the evidences against the appellant were overwhelming and damaging. Therefore, all the grounds of appeal were resolved against the appellant. The judgement of the Lagos High Court delivered on 11 January, 2007 is upheld and affirmed.”
Justice Akinbanmi said it is sad that the appellant, a religious leader, who is supposed to give succour to people and be a living example can do this type of a thing by giving people stone instead of bread, scorpion instead of fish. Rev. King had on Monday 5 November, 2012, urged the Court of Appeal in Lagos to quash his conviction and death sentence.
He was sentenced to death by a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on 11 January, 2007 for the murder of Ann Uzoh.
The convict urged the court to take his appeal, saying the lower court, presided over by Justice Joseph Oyewole, erred in law in many respects and miscarried justice on the matter.
At the hearing of the appeal, counsel to Ezeugo, Mr Olalekan Ojo, adopted the appellant’s brief and his reply.
The respondent, Lagos State Government, represented by its Solicitor-General, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN), also adopted its brief.
Ezeugo was arraigned on 26 September 2006 on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder but he pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The prosecutor had said that the convict poured petrol on the deceased and five other persons and that Ann died on 2 August 2006 , 11 days after the act was done to her.
Counsel to Ezeugo had filed a notice of appeal on 16 January 2007, containing 16 grounds of appeal against the judgment.
On 10 June 2008, the Court of Appeal granted him leave to argue the additional 16 grounds of appeal through an amended notice of appeal filed on 15 June, 2008.