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Death sentence over Aluu killings



The death sentence passed on the perpetrators of the notorious Aluu killings in which four innocent students of the University of Port Harcourt were brutally murdered in a most dastardly manner by a blood-thirsty mob might go a little length to heal the wounded hearts of the bereaved families. Even though, nothing will bring back the dead, that justice has been done, the least the families deserve, should bring the matter to something of a closure.

It is most painful when criminals are allowed to escape the long arm of the law, which is not so in this case. This judgment is commendable notwithstanding that justice came a bit late, the case having dragged on for four years.

The Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt sentenced to death a police sergeant, Lucky Orji and two others – David Chinasa Ogbada and Ikechukwu Louis Amadi (aka Kapoon) for their involvement in the killing of the four students in Aluu, a small community in Ikwere Local Council of Rivers State.

The court, presided over by Justice Letam Nyordee, discharged and acquitted four others – Saviour Johnny, Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Ekpe and Cyril Abang.The victims, Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Tekena Elkannah and Chiadika Briringa were murdered by the mob in Aluu on October 5, 2012 over alleged robbery in the community.

Justice Letam Nyordee, in delivering judgment, said that the prosecution had proved the involvement of the three persons through video evidence presented to the court.The judge held that the evidence given against them were overwhelming, adding that their statements in the murder were confirmed in the video.

Twelve suspects were originally arraigned before the court based on the report from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). Five of the suspects, including the traditional ruler of Umuokiri, Alhaji Hassan Welewa were discharged and acquitted. But seven suspects including the police sergeant, Lucky Orji, were denied bail.

The judge ruled that the statement of four other defendants justified their position that they were not involved in the murder, as corroborated by the video evidence of the prosecution counsel, which only captured the presence of the suspects at the scene of the incidence.

He then said that the role played by the three convicted persons in the murder were unjustifiable, adding that their actions were intended to terminate the lives of the victims, stressing that they were guilty of murder.Citing Section 319(1) of the Criminal code, Cap. 37, Vol. 2, Laws of Rivers State of Nigeria, 1999, Nyordee sentenced the three to death for taking the lives of other persons unjustifiably.

The judge maintained that the death of the four students was most condemnable and cannot be justified, adding that the victims had great hope and future for their families.He frowned at the security operatives for failing to live up to their responsibilities, regretting that the security personnel at the scene of the crime failed to save the situation and described the act as the sorry state of the society.

He said, no explanation would ever be valid on why the Joint Military Task Force (JTF), the Aluu Police Post, Isiokpo Divisional Police Headquarters and C41 security outfit, which were called and were present, could not mobilise to rescue the victims whose robbery could not be proven during the trial.The judge said the decision of the court would serve as a deterrent to those who unduly take human life without recourse to the law, adding that human life should be protected.

The Aluu Four, once again, brings to the fore the issue of jungle justice across Nigeria. In all of the cases, innocent lives are wasted. The trend underscores the poor policing of the country and poor administration of justice. More often than not investigation into some of the dastardly acts is poor, leading to miscarriage of justice.

The infamous Apo Six killings in Abuja readily come to mind. After nearly seven years, two of the police suspects were sentenced to death while three were discharged and acquitted in the case involving six young Nigerians from Apo, a satellite settlement in Abuja.

Just on August 6, 2017, a lone gunman sneaked into a Catholic Church in Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Council of Anambra State, while Sunday morning service was going on and massacred over 21 innocent worshippers in a bloodletting that threw the entire country into mourning. The cases of mob action and jungle justice across the country are indeed worrisome. Innocent families have been wiped out. People are set ablaze in broad daylight.

Security personnel and members of local vigilance groups have also been killed in error. Everybody is a potential victim in the orgy of extrajudicial killings enveloping Nigeria. Blood-letting has become the norm as, armed robbery, cultism and ritual killings are on the rise. As the police are unable to cope and the wheel of justice crawl too slowly, people resort to self-help, which is often taken too far.There is a systematic failure of internal security and the need for state police to boost security at all levels has become imperative.

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