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Uzosike Nwokoronkwo Vs The State (1972) LLJR-SC

Uzosike Nwokoronkwo Vs The State (1972)

LawGlobal-Hub Lead Judgment Report

GEORGE S. SOWEMIMO JSC

The appellant in this case was convicted by Aniagolu, J. at the session of the High Court of Umuahia, on the 1st of June, 1971, and sentenced to death. His appeal against his conviction was heard on the 29th of November, 1971 and was dismissed. As we indicated then, we now give our reasons for so doing.    

The appellant with two others were previously charged with the offence. One of them died before the Preliminary Inquiry at the Magistrate’s Court, and another one died before the trial in the High Court after he had been committed for trial by the Magistrate’s Court.

Briefly, the facts were that one Evaristus Emereonye, who ran away and whose whereabouts are unknown till date, went to the residence of one Christopher Onyeaguma on the 10th of March, 1970, at about 5 a.m., At that time, Christopher Onyeaguma (later deceased) had come to stay with his sister for some days because the latter had just given birth to a child. This sister is one Lydia Okoroafor who gave evidence as the 3rd P.W. She stated how Evaristus came to call Christopher (now deceased) in order that both of them should go to check on the traps which he had set in the bush. The deceased followed Evaristus.

That was last the sister saw of her brother. As a matter of fact, the body of Christopher Onyeaguma has never been recovered.   After several abortive enquiries from Evaristus as to the whereabout of her brother, Lydia Okoroafor, 3rd P.W. decided to lodge a report concerning the disappearance of her brother. This she did to a section of the Nigerian Army then stationed at Orieagu. After the report some soldiers were detailed to follow her to the village for investigation. On their way to the village the soldiers met one Daniel Onyenwuba who was then eating some meat (Exhibit 5A). Lydia in her evidence stated that the spot where they met Daniel Onyenwuba was at a point, which is some distance away from the house of the appellant.

See also  Olowo Okukuje V. Odejenima Akwido (2001) LLJR-SC

On being challenged as to what he was eating (which later was found to be part of human flesh) Daniel Onyenwuba led the soldiers and Lydia to the house of one David Emeronye. On information received from David Emeronye, (now deceased) the soldiers carried out an intensive search of the village and recovered a large quantity of meat including Exhs 5 & 5B in a basket suspected to be human flesh in the house of the appellant. The soldiers then took away the appellant with the basket (Exh.6) containing pieces of human flesh recovered in his premises.    The other material evidence was the statement of the appellant himself which he admitted being correct. He was taken before a superior Police Officer and the statement was read and interpreted in Ibo, and he also confirmed that it was correct. Although he attempted to resile from statement in court, the learned trial Judge after a trial within a trial, held that it was a voluntary statement made by the appellant and confirmed to the 1st P.W. Johnson Ekeinde, an Assistant Superintendent of Police. The statement was tendered as Exh. 4 and the material portion reads-

“It is true that I killed this man by name Christopher Onyeaguma of Umuduru Nsu Mbano. Why I killed him was because he ran away from my house. He entered my house and stole my dog. I gave him the matchet cut. He fell down at the spot. I gave him the cut on the neck. He felled there and dead. (After) killing him, I called for my brother by name David. David took away part of meat and ate, but he did not finish his own. I also ate the man meat. Daniel Okoro Ore took part in the eating of the man meat. This meat brought to the Police is the one he was trying to dry under the fire. I threw my own into the river, because I was unable to finish mine.”

The report of Dr. Ikegwuenu who was at the material time at the Forensic Pathology Department of the General Hospital, Enugu, was tendered in evidence. The report Exh. 7 reads-

See also  Neeyode Peba V The State (1980) LLJR-SC

“Reference The Remains brought in a basket From external features and examination the piece of hand is Human. Further examination will be required to prove that the other pieces are Human or not. The facilities for these however are not yet available here.”

The learned trial Judge in a very exhaustive examination of the evidence before him as well as the law applicable came to the conclusion that it was the appellant who committed the offence. He dealt with all possible defences opened to the appellant and also examined the inconsistencies in the evidence of Lydia (P.W. 3) and her previous statements. He also considered the absence of medical evidence as to the cause of death owing to the corpse of the deceased not having been recovered. The learned trial Judge concluded thus-

“Having carefully considered this case and making all allowance for the fact that there is no eyewitness to the killing, I am satisfied that the accused killed the deceased, Christopher Onyeaguma in circumstances amounting to the offence of murder. I accept the case for the prosecution and reject that of the accused.”

In our view there was ample evidence from which the learned trial Judge could have come to this conclusion. The learned counsel assigned to argue this appeal on behalf of the appellant stated that he had nothing to urge in favour of the appellant. We had ourselves considered the whole of the evidence in the case, the facts as found by the learned trial Judge and his considered views of the law applicable to the case, and we see no reasons to disturb his conclusion. In our opinion, he had quite rightly convicted the appellant. The appeal was therefore dismissed at the hearing.

See also  Sani Idrisu Karmaliya V. Sokoto State (1981) LLJR-SC

Other Citation: (1972) LCN/1619(SC)

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