Two murder suspects regain freedom barely a year in prison custody

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By IBE NWACHUKWU

Two persons standing trial for murder on Monday regained their freedom, barely one year of their remand at Onitsha prison custody.

This followed their discharge and acquittal by an Ogidi High Court in Idemili Judicial Division of Anambra State presided over by Justice VinAgbata who declared that the case of the prosecution was full of pitfalls and contradictions and as such could never sustain a conviction before any court of law.

The accused persons, Godwin Onukwe and Innocent C. Ilechukwu had been arrested and arraigned before the court on November 22, last year on a two-count charge of conspiracy and murder of one TochukwuEnekebe on February 7, 2014 at Macson Junction, Mgbachu Village, Nkpor in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra state, contrary to Sections 495(a) and 274(1) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 36, Laws of Anambra state of Nigeria, 1991.

During the trial, the accused persons were remanded in prison custody as one Sunday Udo testified against them as First Prosecution Witness (PW1), while Sergeant Ale Sunday, Dr.Anikpe and Inspector Otu Louis testified as PW2, PW3 and PW4 respectively.

According to his evidence at the court, the PW1, Udo, said he (Udo) was riding on a motorcycle with the late TochukwuEnekebe on the fateful day, February 7, 2014 when a black coloured Toyota Camry Car overtook them and parked in their front.

Udo stated that four persons, including the two defendants, alighted from the car and at the moment, four other persons on two motorcycles also arrived at the scene, adding that one of them, UchennaOkeke ordered him (Udo) and the deceased to enter the Camry car and they obeyed and the car zoomed off.

He further testified that on their way, the assailants (defendants) asked him as to the reason he became a witness in the case against one UchennaAnyadiegwu, adding that thereafter, the car veered off into the bush and just at that moment, he (Udo) saw one Omezie and Chukwunonso inside a blue coloured car which was parked in the bush.

He said the Camry car, which conveyed him and the late Tochukwu stopped and the first defendant, Onwukwe climbed down and went to meet with Omezie and Chukwunonso in the blue car, adding that he heard Omezie telling Onwukwe to take over and finish the mission.

He said they took him and Tochukwu into the bush and ordered them to lie down and they engaged themselves in a discussion, adding that as their discussion was on-going, he and Tochukwu took to their heels but the defendants shot at them and he barely managed to run out to the road, quickly boarded a commercial motorcycle and escaped to the nearby police station where he lodged a complaint.

He said he later returned to the scene with the police and found the lifeless body of Tochukwu, adding that it was at the police station that he discovered that he even sustained some bullet wounds.

But in his judgement, Justice Agbata stated that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the defendants beyond reasonable doubt, hence the discharge and acquittal of the defendants.

Justice Agbata frowned at the police for not carrying out thorough investigation to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of the testimony of the First Defence Witness (DW1), Ilechukwu that he was in his shop at Nkpor-Uno during the period incident inside the bush, just as the prosecution could not equally ascertain the truth about whether the DW2, Onwukwe was at the State CID in Awka paying a visit to one Superintendent Abe, as he claimed.

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