2 February 2013

Nigeria: Appeal Court Affirms Death Sentence On Reverend King

The Court of Appeal in Lagos yesterday upheld the death sentence passed by Justice Joseph Oyewole of a Lagos State High Court on the General Overseer of Christian Praying Assembly, Rev. ChukwuemekaEzeugo, (a.k.a Reverend King).

The prosecuting Lagos State Government had brought the convict before Justice Oyewole on a six-count charge bordering on attempted murder and murder. But he pleaded 'not guilty' to all the counts. He was also alleged to have poured petrol on the deceased for offence which he classified as "acts of fornication", and set her ablaze alongsideothers.

Justice Oyewole had in his landmark judgment on January 11, 2007 convicted Rev King and sentenced him to death through hanging over the murder of a church member, Ann Uzoh.

Dissatisfied with the verdict of the trial court, Rev King through his lawyer, Mr OlalekanOjo, filed an appeal before the Court of Appeal and raised a plethora of issues for determination.

But in its lead judgment delivered by a Justice of the Court of Appeal (JCA), Justice Fatima Akinbami, the appellate court held that all issues raised by the appellant (Rev King) failed and resolved them in favour of the respondent (Lagos State government).

On the issue of dying declaration, the judge said that there must be the belief in the danger of approaching death, and that this belief was subjective rather objective.

She upheld the view of the trial court and held that the declaration of the deceased could not be admitted as a dying declaration, since there was no immediate apprehension or fear of approaching death.

On the defence of alibi raised by the lawyer to the convict, theappellate court held that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses (prosecution witnesses 1, 2, 3,4, 9 and 10, clearly linkedthe appellant to the scene of the crime.

The JCA said, "The import of alibi is to show that the accused was elsewhere other than the purported place of crime. It is the duty ofprosecution to investigate such claims".

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