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Wilson Udo Ada V The State (1975) LLJR-SC

Wilson Udo Ada V The State (1975)

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The appellants were tried by Ete, J., at the High Court, Ikot Ekpene, in the South-Eastern State and convicted of the murder of one Michael Afangide in January, 1970. The prosecution case was that some of the accused one day seized the deceased when the latter and his wife were sitting in their house, carried him to the house of one Emmanuel Akpan (P.W.6).

When they did not see P.W.6 for some time, the accused took him to the house of one Akpan Akam Enene where they beat up the deceased and the 3rd accused, Enene and the 5th accused later carried him into the bush at the backyard of the house where some of the accused presumably killed him and shared his corpse amongst themselves. Matilda David (P.W.2) who is Enene’s wife testified that the accused killed the deceased.

There was clear evidence that a portion of the deceased’s body was later that evening brought into the kitchen of Enene’s house whose wife testified as follows:   “I know the accused and P.W.1 I knew Akpan Akam Enene. He was my husband. We all come from the same village.I knew Michael Afangide. He was a relation. He was also my Etebom. Michael has been killed by the accused persons. It happened one afternoon. I was in my kitchen. Then I saw Michael being carried on the shoulder by the 3rd accused – Ned Akpakpan Uko. Michael was shouting. With the 3rd accused were the 1st accused, 4th accused and 5th accused. My husband was also among them. Michael was shouting continually. ‘They have killed me’.

They carried him to the backyard of my husband’s compound. I lived in my husband’s house. They all carried matchets. Then after a while I did not hear Michael’s voice nor see him in person. Then in the evening I saw my husband Akpan Enene bringing human meat to my Kitchen in the house to cook. I told him not to, adding that the meat was the flesh of my Etebom. He then took it to his own room to cook. I was with my small son Friday David when he brought the meat. I did not see those of the accused who had carried Michael to the backyard again, apart from my husband who brought the human meat. I did not know which way they took to disperse. I never saw Michael again since that day.”

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There was also evidence that meat from the deceased’s body was the subject of sale between at least some of the accused. The learned trial Judge, after reviewing the evidence before him, summed up the position thus: “Apart from the direct evidence of the killing of Afangide manifested in the 1st accused’s statement and his taking P.W.4 to see the scene, there is the compelling circumstantial evidence of P.W.1, P.W.2 and P.W.3 already set out. This evidence I believe without any reservation. Learned defence counsel in his address seemed to agree that the man was killed but his only quarrel was how he was killed.

The evidence of P.W.1 and P.W.2 is that he was beaten to death with sticks and I accept this evidence. If further proof were needed as to where his body was then there is the evidence of P.W.2 and P.W.3 that they saw their husband and father Akpan Akam Enene with human meat which P.W.2 believed was that of Michael Afangide, just killed. One might argue that the meat they saw might have been that of some animal like a cow, but this is disproved, first by the evidence of P.W.2 that she forbade her husband to cook the human meat in her kitchen otherwise she would get out and go home to her own village and he bowed to the threat and took the meat to his own room and cooked it there and ate it.

Secondly the argument is disproved by the admission of the 2nd accused in his statement Exhibit ‘E’, that he ate the body of Michael Afangide. This is what he said about it in his statement, the translation being mine: ‘In the evening of that day Akpan Akam Enene gave me Michael Afangide’s flesh and I ate it. He Akpan Akam Enene himself told me I was eating human flesh.   Thirdly there is the evidence of P.W.1 that she heard the 4th accused say that he would use the meat from her husband’s body to eat and drink palm-wine where he was erecting a building. She also heard the 4th accused ask the 1st accused whether he had finished selling his own share of the meat. So we have proof that Michael Afangide was killed and that his flesh was cut up and eaten, and some of his bones and hair were recovered by the police.”

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The learned trial Judge then found: “There is no doubt that the common purpose of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th accused together with Akpan Akam Enene and Johnson Udo Udo, both now dead, in taking Michael Afangide to the house of Akpan Akam Enene, and then to his backyard, was to kill him. By Section 7 of the Criminal Code all seven men were principal offenders.”   He accordingly convicted the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th accused of the murder of the deceased.

The appellants brought the present appeal against that decision on various grounds which we consider untenable. The appeal is therefore dismissed as without merit.   One serious aspect of the case which has very much disturbed us is that of the cannibalism that accompanied the murder.

We felt impelled by the horror of this secondary crime to direct the Senior State Counsel for the South-Eastern State Ministry of Justice to report to the Honourable Attorney-General that this court views with extreme disgust and disapproval that cannibalism should still be openly practised anywhere in Nigeria in 1975, and we hereby implore the Government of the South-Eastern State to take all necessary steps to educate the people of the State on the iniquities of such a crime in contemporary Nigeria.

Other Citation: (1975) LCN/2124(SC)

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