Justice Letam Nyordee of Rivers State High Court yesterday convicted and sentenced to death an ex-Police Sergeant, Lucky Orji, and two others for the murder of four students of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) at Aluu, a university village in Ikwerre Local Government Area, on October 5, 2012.
Other persons sentenced with Sergeant Orji are David Chinasa Obada and Ikechukwu L. Amadi (a.k.a. Kapoo).
Abiodun Yusuf, Joshua Egbe, Cyril Abam and John Ayuu (a.k.a Jonny Barbar) were discharged and acquitted. The court said the prosecution failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt a case of murder against them.
Ugonna Obuzor (19), Tekena Elkanah(23), Lloyd Toku Mike(22), and Chiadika Biringa(23) were paraded naked and lynched by a pool of water beside a waste dump at Umokiri in Aluu. They were accused of stealing laptop and mobile handset, an allegation the court absolved them of.
Twelve persons, including the paramount ruler, Alhaji, Hassan Welewa and Orji, were tried for their murder.
Welewa and four others were charged for negligence to wit felony to prevent murder. They were granted bail in 2015 and discharged and acquitted in January.
In the judgment, which lasted three hours, Justice Nyordee condemned the murder and blamed it mostly on the failure of security agencies, especially the police and army.
Convicting the trio he said, “The murder of the four victims on October 5, 2012, at Umokiri is unjustified, uncalled for … I hereby find each of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants guilty of the offence in respects to counts one, two and four of the information filed and therefore convict each of them accordingly in line with Section 319 of the Criminal Code Cap 11, of Laws of Rivers State, 1999.
“The death of the four victims in one whole act of the convicts and others at large cannot be justified. We are talking about the death of young people full of life, who were great hope for their families and society. The candles of their lives were abruptly and undeservedly and without a single thought lit out with mere breath against all societal expectations.
“Their deaths and the hopes of their families and society and families are irreparable that is why we deemed it fit to invoke the maximum of Criminal Act in the case of prove murder which the court has sincerely unfolded.
“Let me use this opportunity to say that what resulted to the unfortunate deaths of the victims in this case, is a combination of several unfortunate factors, including the ignorance of societal role in the preservation of communal lives, the shameful failure of security institutions…, that several security outfits around the vicinity of the scene of the murder of the four young men in this state was enough to guarantee their safety if they were committed to exhibit promptness to professional and lawful duties of protecting life and property.
“No explanation can ever be seen or taken as reason why the security teams in the area, such as the police patrol team from Isiokpor division, the JTF, the c4i and the Aluu police post that were all armed at least minimally could not mobilise either individually or jointly to rescue the youth whose allegation that they were robbers could not be substantiated.
“The deaths of these bright young men in the circumstance given shows how cheap human life is, even when compared to mere animals. It is also surprising to know why police officers who are claiming heavily in their official duties to protect lives in this state are not apprehended and sanctioned with criminal charge in a situation as grievous as this. It is still the sorry state of the affairs of the society.”
The judge continued: “The conviction and sentence to the maximum tense will teach all men that human life is sacred, and should be respected and protected as commanded by God, the sole owner of life.
“The case of the convicts is one of the deterrents to all other men to treat human life with utmost care and respect.
“ Accordingly, the convicts deserve a maximum of the following. I hereby sentence ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji to death for the murder of the victims in this case. I also hereby sentence Ikechukwu Lois Amadi to death of the murder of the victims in this case. I also sentence David Chinasa Obada for the murder of the same victims. May all the convicts herein receive the mercy of the creator of all lives, and may the Lord show you mercy, that is the sentence.”
The father of one of the victms (Lloyd), Mike Toku Mike, said: “I am partially happy that the garment of robbery, criminality has been pulled off from the four young men that were murdered in Aluu. It is crystal clear that the boys were innocent, they did not steal or rob, but only went to the place to demand the money they were owed and they were falsely tagged and killed.
“However, I would have been happier if the seven of them were convicted and sentenced, but the law did not see it like that but only three were sentenced, it is ok.
“I thank God that after the trauma we went through, and the case lingering for so long a time, it is now over, that makes me happy.”
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ibikiri Otoribio, who led a team of state counsel to prosecute the case expressed satisfaction on the judgment., “justice has been done, we are satisfied”.
Asked what will happen to those suspects at large, he said:
“It is left to the police to do their duty. They should investigate the matter. It is not totally over yet. Anytime those of them still at large are apprehended, there is no time limit in capital offences. We will come up and prosecute.”