A high court sitting in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State on Wednesday sentenced one Utibe Ita to life imprisonment for killing his father.
It was gathered from the accused confessional statement to the police that he had been having disagreement with the late father over family issues.
Delivering his judgement, Justice Bassey Nkanang, said Ita was originally arraigned on a one count charge of murder, contrary to Section 326(1) of the Criminal Code Cap 38, volume 2 Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria 2000, in Charge No HIT/3c/2018, but had the charge commuted to manslaughter.
According to one Godwin Udoisang, brother to the deceased, “between June 5 and 11, 2017 late Oscar Ita could not be found anywhere around the neighborhood, this development prompted me to initiate a search party.”
Udoissang who testified as PW1 in the trial suit, said he first enquired about his brother’s whereabout from the accused, but the accused claimed he had not seen him
He told the court that after they had combed the surroundings and nearby bushes without any result, so he decided to search in the late brother’s house which he lived with the accused, then he discovered something like a heap of earth.
He maintained that at the homicide department of the state CID, Ikot Akpan Abia, one detective, a photographer and a pathologist accompanied the youths to the scene where the remains of late Oscar Ita were exhumed and an autopsy conducted indicated that the accused buried his late father still wearing his left shoe.
From the confessional statement including autopsy report and police investigation, there was strong suspicion that the accused may have buried his father when he was not yet dead, since he confessed that he hit the late father, “and he fell down”, adding that he “rushed” to a neighbour, begged and obtained a shovel used in digging the shallowgrave.
O. P. Okpo , Chief state counsel insisted that though there was no eye witness(es) which is one of the ingredients to prove the offence of murder, the confessional statement of the accused and circumstantial evidence of the crime are sufficient to prove the charge of murder against the accused.
Lawrence S Udonwa Esq, who appeared for the defense contended that since there was no eye witness (es) to the alleged offence, evidence of the four state witnesses cannot sustain the conviction of the accused person.
He argued that exhibits 1 to 3 (Post-mortem Report, photographs of scene and body of the deceased) tendered by the Investigating Police Officer who was neither an expert nor maker was improper.
In the course of the trial, the state called four witnesses and tendered five exhibits, while the accused was his witness.
In his first judgment, Justice Bassey Nkanang considered all arguments and submissions by parties before concluding that, “the court believed that there was mutual physical assault. A person who unlawfully kills another in the circumstance of mutual physical assault committed manslaughter, and not murder”.
Justice Nkanang noted that, “the prosecution has proven all the ingredients of murder. The court is persuaded to convict the accused of the offence of manslaughter. Consequently, the accused is sentenced to life imprisonment.”