After almost five years of legal battle to avenge the death of four University of Port Harcourt that were hacked to death by irate crowd, a former police sergeant and two others have been sentenced to death.
Giving judgment on Monday at the Rivers state High Court, Justice Letam Nyordee, having exhausted all evidences against the accused persons, convicted and sentenced to death an ex-Police Sergeant, Lucky Orji and two others
They were accused of the murder of four undergraduate students of the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) at Aluu, on October 5, 2012 in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Others who were handed over death sentence are David Chinasa Obada and Ikechukwu L. Amadi aka Kapoo.
However, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Egbe, Cyril Abam and John Ayuu (a.k.a Jonny Barbar) were discharged and acquitted. The judge claimed the prosecution could not establish a case of murder of the victims against them.
National Daily recalls that the four students: Tekena Elkanah (23), Lloyd Toku Mike (22), Ugonna Obuzor (19), and Chiadika Biringa(23) were striped naked, beaten before they were lynched at Umokiri in Aluu community under the watchful eyes of some policemen with some of them participating.
The victims were said to have been erroneously accused of stealing laptop and mobile handset; an allegation that was not true.
Twelve persons, including the Paramount Ruler of the community Alhaji, Hassan Welewa and a retired Police sergeant Orji were being tried for the murder of the four youths.
However, Alhji Welewa and four others were said to have been charged for negligence with felony to prevent murder but were later granted bail in 2015 and acquitted, January, 2017.
Delivering his judgment that lasted over three hours, Justice Nyordee condemned the murder in strong terms and blamed the army and Police for failure to provide security for which they are paid with the tax payers money.
Convicting the accused, Justice Nyordee said, “I hereby find each of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants guilty of the offence in respects to counts one, two and four of the information filed and therefore convict each of them accordingly in line with the provision of section 319 of the criminal code Cap 11, of Laws of rivers state, 1999.”
The court regretted that gross negligence on the part of men of the Joint Task Force (JTF), and Police, and ignorance of the societal roles led to the deaths of the boys apart from the actions of the persons convicted.
“The death of the four victims in one whole act of the convicts and others at large cannot be justified. We are talking about the death of young people full of life who were great hope for their families and society at large. The candles of their lives were abruptly and undeservedly and without a single thought lit out with mere breath against all societal expectations.
“Their deaths and the hopes of their families and society and families at large are irreparable that is why we deemed it fit to invoke the maximum of criminal Act in the case of prove murder which the court has sincerely unfolded.
“Let me use this opportunity to say that what resulted to the unfortunate deaths of the victims in this case, is a combination of several unfortunate factors, including the ignorance of societal role in the preservation of communal lives, the shameful failure of security institutions, that there were several security outfits around the vicinity of the scene of the murder of the four young men in this state was enough to guarantee their safety if they were committed to exhibit promptness to professional and lawful duties of protecting life and property.
“No explanation can ever be seen or taken as reason why the security teams in the area such as the police patrol team from Isiokpor division, the JTF, the C4i and the Aluu police post that were all armed, at least, minimally could not mobilize either individually or jointly to rescue the youths whose allegation that they were robbers could not be substantiated.
“The deaths of these bright young men in the circumstance given shows how cheap human life is, even when compared to mere animals. It is also surprising to know why police officers who are claiming heavily in their official duties to protect the lives in this state are not apprehended and sanctioned with criminal charge in a situation as grievous as this. It is still the sorry state of the affairs of the society,” he concluded.
The judge further added that “’the conviction and sentence to the maximum tense will teach all men that human life is sacred, and should be respected and protected as commanded by God the sole owner of life.
“The case of the convicts is one of the deterrents to all other men to treat human life with utmost care respect, accordingly the convicts deserve a maximum of the following.
“I hereby sentence Ex-sergeant lucky Orji to death for the murder of the victims in this case, I also hereby sentence Ikechukwu Lois Amadi to death of the victims in this case, I also sentence David Chinasa Obada for the murder of the same victims, may all the convicts herein receive the Mercy of the creator of all lives, and May the Lord show you Mercy, that is the sentence,” he concluded.
The father of one of the victims, Mike Toku Mike, expressed partial joy with the outcome of the judgment.
“I am partially happy that the garment of robbery, criminality has been pulled off from the four young men that were murdered in Aluu. It is crystal clear that the boys were innocent; they did not steal or robbed anybofy but only went to the place to demand for the money they were owed and they were falsely tagged and killed.
“However, I would have been happier if the seven of them were convicted and sentenced, but the law did not see it like that but only three were sentenced, it is okay”.
In the same vain, the state Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ibikiri Otoribio, who led team of state counsel to prosecute the case expressed satisfaction on the judgement, “justice has been done, we are satisfied.”