Akwa Ibom State High Court, presided by Justice Edem Akpan, has sentenced 82-year-old Village Head of Efen Ibom in Ika Local Government Area of the State, Chief Essien Matthew Odiong, to death by hanging for murder.
The monarch, married to 12 wives and has 60 children, was standing trial on four counts of conspiracy, directing unlawful trial by ordeal, stealing of the motorcycle and murder of the owner, one Udoma Udo Ubom.
Delivering judgment on Friday, Justice Akpan said the court found the accused guilty of murder of the deceased by injecting some chemical substance on him, leading to his death on 26th April, 2017.
According to the judgement, the late Ubom was accused by his brothers of being a wizard and was reported to the Village Head, who brought him before the Council, where the deceased was administered an oath to swear and prove his innocence.
The court held, “Having sensed the consequences of his criminal activity, the monarch escaped from the village since 2017 and returned in 2019, when he was arrested by the police.”
Justice Akpan stated, “The accused had voluntarily admitted that he sat at Efen Clan Council with five other village heads and members of the Clan Council to try the deceased on the allegation of witchcraft, and the law has relieved the prosecution of the burden to prove the offence of conspiracy.”
The court further held, “The admission of the process of trial and the decision of Efen Clan Council to administer oath on the deceased, has logically brought to the conclusion that a plastic bath on the head of the late Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom and injecting some chemical substance through a syringe into his buttocks by the village head, caused the death of the deceased.”
Justice Edem Akpan sentenced the Village Head to death by hanging for murder, seven years imprisonment with hard labour for directing unlawful trial by ordeal and three years imprisonment for conspiracy with others now at large.
However, before the sentence was announced, the convicted Village Head, popularly known as ‘Kill and Bury’ pleaded for leniency, asking the Court to temper justice with mercy.