A retired worker of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Mr. Godwin Elewana, is to die by hanging for murdering a 22-year-old student, Douglas Ojugbo, over suspicion that the victim was having an illicit affair with his daughter, Mercy Elewana.
This was the judgement of the Cross River State High Court sitting in Calabar which, on Wednesday, found the accused guilty of a one-count charge of murder in Suit No. HC/9C/2015.
Reports say Elewana, who had been in prison custody since 2016, murdered Ojugbo on March 10, 2015 in Calabar after warning him against coming to his house, located at the premises of Cross River state Basin Authority area, to see Mercy.
In his judgement, the presiding Judge, Justice Ukpa Ebitam, said the prosecution team proved its case beyond every reasonable doubt that the accused person committed the crime, and listed several confessional statements, hospital reports and the exhibits presented in the course of trial as reasons why the accused was convicted.
“The prosecution team was able to establish ingredients of murder against the accused. On whether it was the act of the accused that caused the death of the victim, the prosecution team placed reliance, mostly, on the confessional statement by the accused…;clearly, the statement linked the murder to the accused.
“The prosecution team also proved their second ingredient of murder which was the intentional act. To have fired the victim twice with his pump action gun, I agree that the killing was intentional. I hereby find the accused person guilty of murder.
“Subject to section 319 of the Criminal Code of Cross River State, any person who commits murder is sentenced to death by hanging,” the judge stated.
Before the conviction was pronounced, the Defence Counsels, led by Mr. Clement Ukaegbu and Mr. Orchardson Umoh, had pleaded for leniency, saying the Judge should tamper justice with mercy on the grounds that the convict had a good religious standing and high integrity in the society.
But the prosecution team, led by Mr. Eneji Amajama, expressed satisfaction that justice has been served, adding, “I thank God that we still have industrious and sound judges who still uphold the rule of law. Today, if for nothing else, the parents of the deceased would have some respite that the law of the land has taken its course.
“This judgement will serve as a deterrent to others that you cannot do what is wrong and go away with it and I think that this will be the better for our society. Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Cross River State under which the accused person was tried for the offence of murder does not give the judge right to give him life imprisonment. The judge has just done what the law stipulated.”
Also speaking, the victim’s mother, Mrs. Maria Ojugbo, quoted the Bible as saying that anyone who kills by the sword will die by the sword, and added, “I thank God Almighty for doing what should be done. Elewana had no reason, whatsoever, to kill my son in such manner and conceal it by burying him. It is God Almighty that gave approval for this judgement.”
The defence counsel did not say whether or not their team would appeal the judgment as Elewana was led away by prisons officials pending when he would face hangman noose.
But prior to the judgement, a senior police officer who did not want his name in print had said information given to the Police was that an armed robber was killed by angry mob.
He said: “when I got the information, I called the control unit informing them that a suspect was apprehended at the Basin Authority area. When the patrol came back I saw somebody at the back of the pickup and they brought him down.
“They brought along with him some iron bender and locally made pistol, and that it was angry mob that nabbed him. Elewana was there with the mob. He said he was in his house, twin flat when he heard dog barking from the other end and that when he sought to find out why the dog was barking he saw someone rushing out from the sitting room of the other flat who threatened him with the machete he was holding but he (Elewana) said he retreated to his flat and brought out his double-barrel gun with which he shot the suspect.”
However, our reporter learnt that the lid was blown open allegedly by Elewana’s family member who was privy to the relationship between the victim and Mercy. The member reportedly identified the corpse as that of Douglas Ojugbo and accordingly alerted the victim’s family. The corpse was later exhumed from where the police, in connivance with Elewana, had buried it and so the matter was charged to court.