The Uyo Division of Akwa Ibom State High Court has sentenced the village head of Efen Ibom in Ika local government area, Chief Essien Matthew Odiong, to death by hanging.
The 82-year-old traditional ruler, married to 12 wives with 60 children, was standing trial on a four-count charge of conspiracy, directing unlawful trial by ordeal, stealing a motorcycle and murder of the owner, a member of his community, one Udoma Ubom.
In the judgment at the weekend, the court presided over by Justice Edem Akpan, found him guilty of murdering Ubom by injecting him with a lethal substance, leading to his death on April 26, 2017.
According to the particulars of the case, the late Ubom was accused by his brothers of being a wizard and was reported to the village head, who brought him before the Efen Clan council w. he was given an oath to swear, after he denied being a wizard.
The court said; “Having sensed the consequences of his criminal activity, the monarch escaped from the village in 2017 and returned in 2019 when he was arrested by the police.”
Justice Akpan also held that since the accused had voluntarily admitted that he sat at Efen Clan council with five other village heads and members of the council to try the deceased on the allegation of witchcraft, the law had relieved the prosecution of the burden to prove the offence of conspiracy.”
According to the court, the admission of the process of trial and the decision of Efen Clan council to administer oath on the deceased had logically brought to the conclusion that a plastic bath on the head of the late Udoma Ubom, and injecting some chemical substance through a syringe into his buttocks by the village head caused the death.
Consequently, Justice Akpan sentenced the village head to death by hanging for murder, seven years imprisonment with hard labour for directing unlawful trial by ordeal and three years imprisonment for conspiracy with others now at large.
Before he was sentenced, the village head popularly known as “Kill and Bury” had pleaded for leniency, begging the court to show him mercy for the sake of his 12 wives and 60 children, with little children among them.
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