A 40-year old farmer in Delta State, Alex Obigho has been condemned to death by hanging for killing one Okunu Diafa, the Personal Steward and cook of the traditional ruler of Kiagbodo community in Delta State, the state High Court has ruled.
The court sitting at Ughelli Judicial Division and presided over by Justice A.O Akpovi found the accused guilty of the one-count charge of murder brought against him by the state, and accordingly sentenced him to death by hanging.
The late Diafa, a native of Kiagbodo community in Burutu Local Government Area of the state, was brutally murdered on the 22nd day of June, 2012 at the boundary between Oviri-Olomu of Ughelli South Local Government and Kiagbodo.
His murder had heightened tension between the two peaceful communities for fear of reprisal attack by his kinsmen but the quick intervention of the traditional rulers of both communities saved the situation.
Justice Akpovi in his judgement, commended the traditional rulers of both communities for handling the matter with maturity, and prevented it from snowballing into crisis because of the action of one man.
“The deceased was not armed and the level of damage was unreasonable. The accused did not report the matter to the police for investigation rather he killed the man and absconded with his phone which he later sold to a buyer. This shows that the accused is hardened. He had the option of arresting the deceased and hand him over to the police instead of taking the laws into his hands,” the court held.
The trial Judge who declined the plea for allocutus by the counsel to the accused, who begged the court to mitigate the sentence by imposing a lesser punishment, said that his hands were tied that the evidences before the court were overwhelming and averred that accused who laid ambush against the deceased while armed with a cutlass had the intention to kill.
In his defense, the accused alleged that the deceased was a ‘thief’ responsible for stealing his farm produce. While narrating what transpired on that fateful day, he said he caught the deceased in his farm and on sighting him, the deceased took to his heels but he pursued him and a fight ensued. According to the convict he engaged the deceased in serious fight and in the process he inflicted him with severe machete cuts which led to his instant death.
In another judgement, Justice Akpovi had discharged and acquitted one Kingsley Oyokolo on a four count of armed robbery, membership of unlawful society, conspiracy and causing grievous harm to his victim whom he allegedly shot during a robbery operation at Ozoro, Isoko North Local Government Area.
The Judge in his verdict, held that prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt ingredients of the four-count charge against the accused.
He however, ordered the prison officials to take him back to prison custody to properly cross-check their records to ensure that the accused was not standing criminal trial in another court before he could be release back to society.
The prison officials later confirmed to the court that the accused was actually standing another criminal trial at Kwale High Court, dashing his hope for eventual release until the final determination of his fate by the Kwale High Court presiding over his second criminal case.
Ivovi Aruoriwo Darlington JP
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Justice