By Ikeugonna Eleke
An Anambra State High Court sitting at Otuocha has sentenced one Chukwuebuka Nneji-Olona to death by hanging for the murder of a policeman, Corporal Oluwadaini Temidayo, at Oye-Olisa Market, Ogbunike, in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The defendant, Chukwuebuka was identified as one of the Indian hemp dealers at the market, who killed a police officer by beating him to death with stones and wooden planks, on the 2nd day of May, 2014, contrary to section 274(1) of the criminal code.
According to facts put forward by the prosecuting counsel, Mrs Stella Ofokansi, the deceased police corporal was a policeman working at Nteje Divisional Police Station. “He used to visit the shops of Indian hemp dealers at Oye-Olisa Market every month, demanding and collecting bribes from the illicit drug dealers in order to keep quiet over their illegal business.
‘But luck ran out of the corrupt policeman when he stormed the market in company of other police officers to raid the shops of the illegal Indian hemp sellers, after coming the previous day to collect his usual bribe money.
‘This action by the police officer brought about so much anger, resistance and resentment from the drug peddlers that they physically assaulted him with stones and wood, leading to his sudden death.’
The defendant, feeling guilty that he killed the victim in cold blood and for fear of being caught, ran to the house of a herbalist known aT Ajana-Oyibo, to do a spiritual work that would free him from the guilt of killing the deceased which was disturbing him. The said native doctor reported the matter to the local vigilante operatives, who arrested the defendant and handed him over to the Divisional Police Station at Nteje for investigation and persecution.
The trial judge, Justice Dilibe O.C Amaechina, found that the case of the prosecution fell within Section 8 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 5 of the Criminal Code Law of Anambra State, which states that “when two or more persons form a common intention to prosecute an unlawful purpose in conjunction with one another, and in the prosecution of such purpose, an offence is committed of such a nature that its commission was a probable consequence of the prosecution of such purpose, each of them is deemed to have committed the offence”.
Justice Amaechina stated that ‘after considering all the evidence before me, I am left in no reasonable doubt as to the facts put forward by the state. I accordingly hold that the facts alleged by the state have been established beyond reasonable doubt.’
Justice D.O.C. Amaechina therefore held the accused liable of unlawfully killing the deceased and found him guilty as charged. Hence the defendant was sentenced to death by hanging.
Reacting to the judgement, the prosecuting counsel from the State Department of Public Prosecution DPP, Mrs Stella Ofokansi, said this should serve as a deterrent to the entire citizenry, as anyone that engaged in jungle justice would be apprehended, prosecuted and punished according to the law.
According to Mrs Ofokansi, the state was able to prove their case beyond every reasonable doubt, and the judge delivered his judgement based on evidence before him. I hope people would learn that they could not engage in unlawful mob action and get away with it.’
All efforts to reach the defence lawyer, Mr Nnamdi Otukwu, proved abortive as he was not available for comment.