31st March, 2017
The Nigerian Army has dismissed a soldier, Sunday Umaru, for killing his lover, Charity Thomas, over a phone call.
Umaru, a married man, was on posting at the special task force, STF, sector 7, Barkin Ladi, Plateau, at the time of the incident, on January 23, 2016.
He was taken before a Barkin-Ladi high court on Friday, after the hearing, scheduled for March 30, could not hold following the absence of Samson Gang, the judge, who was said to be attending a function elsewhere.
Umaru was first arraigned on July 14, 2016 on a one-count charge of culpable homicide.
He was specifically accused of killing his lover, who came to visit him from Kaduna, by stabbing her with a knife in the stomach and slaughtering her thereafter.
According to the prosecutor, W.T Awe, of the Plateau state ministry of justice, the accused person committed the crime on January 23, 2016 in Barkin Ladi.
Awe, during the arraignment, told the court that the Nigeria Army had court-martialled the accused, dismissed him after they found him guilty, and handed him over to the police for prosecution.
He said the accused person had told the police, in a confessional statement, that the deceased visited him sometime in January 2016, after which they had a misunderstanding which led to her death.
“In the statement, the accused alleged that the deceased used a kitchen knife to stab herself after which he (accused), removed the knife and ‘helped’ her to complete the act by slaughtering her,” Awe said.
Awe further quoted the accused as saying that he was in the sitting room while Charity was in the kitchen at 7 pm on January 23, when Charity’s phone rang and he picked the call.
The accused, in the statement, said a man’s voice at the other insisted on speaking with Charity, but that he (accused) demanded to know who he (caller) was.
He claimed that instead of answering his inquiries, the caller rained insults on him.
Umaru, according to the statement, dropped the call, went to the kitchen and asked Charity who the caller was, but that Charity refused to provide answers to his questions, opting to remind him that he (Umaru) was a married man.
The accused further claimed that Charity, in a fit of anger, called off the relationship and declared that she was no more interested in him (Umaru), especially since her parents had consistently warned her against the affair.
“Umaru said that he got angry and slapped her, which angered Charity, who quickly picked a knife and stabbed herself in the stomach,” Awe told the court.
The statement further indicated that Charity fell down thereafter, with the accused removing the knife from her stomach and slaughtering her “to complete the job she started”.
Umaru thereafter took her body outside, left it there and reported for duty at 8 pm.
The prosecutor said the accused, from his duty point, went to to see his family at the Maxwell Kobe Cantonment, Rukuba Barracks, after telling his boss that his wife wanted to see him over “a very pressing issue”.
“Charity’s lifeless body was found the next day by neighbours, while military men, who came to evacuate the body, trailed the blood marks to the accused person’s house,” Awe said.
“Friends of the accused also recognised the girl as Umaru’s lover, who was seen with him the previous day.”
He said a team of military men, mobilised to go after the accused, arrested him at his home in the barracks, while in the company of his family.
According to Awe, the accused was court-martialled by the military and dismissed.
He said during investigation, the police discovered several gory pictures and videos of the deceased that the accused took in his phone, immediately after the murder.
The accused has, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge
During his first appearance in July 2016, Umaru’s counsel, David Adudu, prayed the court to grant his client bail, citing section 36(5) of the 1999 constitution which says that an accused is presumed innocent until otherwise proven.
Adudu had added that if the bail was granted, his client would neither jump bail nor interfere with police investigation.
The judge admitted the accused to bail in the sum of N200,000 and two sureties in like sum.
Gang, who ordered that the sureties must reside within the jurisdiction of the court, said that they must submit two copies of their recent passport photographs, copies of their national ID cards, GCE certificates and copies of their rights of occupancy.
He thereafter adjourned the matter till March 30, for hearing.
Since the judge was not available to hear the case, the matter was adjourned till May 25.