More states seem to be embracing the death by hanging penalty regardless of the pressure from civil society groups and the international community.
Justice Chukwuemeka Ohakwe of Owerri High Court on Tuesday sentenced seven persons to death for murder of one Okechukwu Osuji on May 11, 2001.
The offence was contrary toSection 319 (1) of the CriminalCode Cap 30 Volume 11 laws of the Eastern Nigeria 1963 applicable to Imo State.
The condemned persons include Ejike Okoro, Cajetan Okoro, Rapheal Ike, Paul Njoku, Eric Igbo, Chidiebere Njoku and Anyanwuchukwu Unamba. Justice Ohakwe also discharged and acquitted the third, sixth and seventh accused persons (Uchenna Udeh, Ikechukwu Ukonu and Boniface Okoro) for lack of evidence.
In his judgment, the trial judge said: “From the evidence by the prosecution, there is no evidence except the confessional statement by the first accused person (Ejike Okoro) linking the third, sixth and seventh accused persons with the murder.”
According to him, the confessional statement of the first accused person was not binding on them and they were therefore discharged and acquitted. He said the prosecution had established the offence of murder of Okechukwu Osuji on May 11, 2001 against the first, second, third, fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth accused persons, stating that they had been found guilty of offence of murder. He therefore sentenced each of the accused persons to death by hanging.
Ohakwe said the prosecution had an overwhelming evidence that members of a secret cult killed the victim in a thick forest along Toronto-Egbu Road in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state on the fateful day and collected his brain for ritual purposes.
The accused persons who were caught by the police in an uncompleted building during their evil act all hail from Owalla Uratta in Owerri North Local GovernmentArea.