Lagos — A Lagos Court of Appeal, Lagos today affirmed the verdict of Lagos High Court which convicted and sentenced to death, the General overseer, Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, also known as Reverend King.
But the controversial pastor through his lawyer, Olalekan Ojo said he would appeal the verdict at the Supreme Court.
In her verdict, Justice Fatima Akinbami said all the issue raised by the controversial pastor in his appeal failed at the higher court.
She punctured the dying declaration of Reverend King, saying such cannot be admitted as a dying declaration, since there was no immediate apprehension or fear of approaching death.
She also punctured the appellant counsel's position that the evidence of prosecution witness was colored and so inadmissible without corroboration.
She held that "Even the evidence of a tainted witness is admissible once it is material to the case. A tainted witness is one who may not be an accomplice, but whose evidence may be admissible without the neccessity of administering any special warning.
"The prosecution witness in this case is an eye witness and so the evidence is material to the case," she said.
Akinbami held on the issue of corroboration and evaluation of the evidence by the trial judge, She said that all evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses, were unanimous,adding that they all pointed to the fact that the appellant actually used a matches and petrol to set the deceased ablaze.
"Each of the prosecution witness gave evidence as to how the victim was beaten and burnt by the appellant.
"To my mind, there is no contradiction whatsoever and even if there were, it is immaterial, since all the witnesses are unanimous" she said.
According to her, the trial judge was free to write his judgment in his own style, if it sets out the issue for determination, shows a clear understanding of the facts as stated and arrives at a logical conclusion.
She said the evidence of Pw 5, 8, 6 and 7, (doctors) all showed that the deceased died due to the burns.
She disclosed the evidence given by principal witness 6, who conducted the post mortem examination, revealed that the deceased died as a result of loss of fluid arising from the burning.
She also said the evidence of Principal Witness 2, the Police investigating officer, also revealed the items used for carrying out the dastard act on the victim,stressing that the burden of proof in a criminal trial lied on the prosecution, and this was proof beyound reasonable doubt.
She held that "Proof does not mean proof beyound scientific certainty or beyound any shadow of doubt, but only beyond reasonable doubt.
"I hereby rule that the prosecution have effectively discharged the burden of proof on it.This appeal is devoid of any basis and accordingly fails.The judgment of the high court is hereby affirmed, and the conviction imposed on the appellant, is also affirmed" Akinbami ruled.
She condemned the attitude of some pastors towards their congregation,saying:The ingredient of this case is so bizzare.It is so devastating how some men of God will give out to their congregation, scorpion instead of fish, and stone instead of bread"
Ezeugo was convicted by Justice Joseph Oyewole of a Lagos High court, and sentenced to death by hanging on January 11, 2007, for the alleged murder of a church member, Ann Uzoh.
Ezeugo, who was slammed with six-counts of attempted murder and murder, and had pleaded not guilty to all counts,was said to have poured petrol on the deceased for offence which he classified as "acts of fornication", and set her ablaze, along side others.
The trial judge had found him guilty as charged and had sentenced him to death by hanging.
But his lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo, proceeded to the appellate court, had contended in his appeal in November 5, 2012 raising various issues for determination.
He said the trial judge was erred to have refused admissibility of a dying declaration made by the deceased, which exonerated the convict.
He pointed out that the appellant was absent from the scene of the incident at the time it occurred and argued that the evidence adduced by the prosecution witnesses were tainted evidences which required corroboration, and also urged the appellate court to evaluate such evidence.