Judge Sentences 5 Men To Death By Hanging For Culpable Homicide

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By Onyeje Abutu-Joel

A Makurdi High Court Judge, Justice T.A Kume on Wednesday, sentenced five men to death by hanging culpable homicide.

The men, Terna Zwave, Jonathan Gbajime, John Bur, Gabriel Ianna and Kwaghgba Zaki who lived at Anchoha Village, Gwer-East Local Government Area of Benue were charged before a Makurdi Magistrates’ Court in 2021.

They were charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, mischief and culpable homicide punishable under sections 97, 349, 329 and 222 of the penal code laws of Benue, 2004.

The prosecution said on Oct 5, 2021, the men conspired, trespassed on land belonging to one Oliver Jato and cut down trees to make charcoal.

The prosecution said the defendants were then confronted by Abraham Hwange, Peter Agber and the deceased which resulted in violent scuffles.

He said that the convicts beat Biija to death.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the case was eventually transferred to the High Court by legal advice.

When the case came up, the first defendant, Zwave pleaded guilty while all others pleaded not guilty.

The defendants testified for themselves without calling any witnesses while the prosecution called seven witnesses to prove its case.

Prosecution counsel, R.B.N Amenger in his final written address submitted that the rest defendants’ plea of not guilty was only a mere denial.

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Amenger argued that the defendants had completely failed to raise a defence as to the commission of all the offences established but rather dwell on mere denials and technicalities which he said were not material or fatal to the case of the prosecution.

Defence counsel, D.U Liam in his final written addresses said that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt to warrant the sentence of the defendants.

However, the trial Justice ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts, saying that denying the commission of offence did not amount to not committing it.

Kume said the burden of proof rests on the defense counsel which he failed to achieve.

Kume said he had heard the plea for mercy by the defendants and the statement by their counsel in which the Lord’s prayers were contained in the words.

He stated that the law for which he was bound to apply in the case did not have the grace contained in the Lord’s prayer.

He, therefore, sentenced them to death by hanging on the four counts charge. (NAN)

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