Benue: Five men to die by hanging for culpable homicide

A Makurdi High Court presided by Justice T.A Kume on Wednesday sentenced five men to death by hanging for culpable homicide.

The men, Terna Zwave, Jonathan Gbajime, John Bur, Gabriel Ianna and Kwaghgba Zaki, who lived at Anchoha Village, Gwer-East Local Government Area of Benue, were charged before a Makurdi Magistrates’ Court in 2021.

They were charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal trespass, mischief and culpable homicide punishable under sections 97, 349, 329 and 222 of the Penal Code, Laws of Benue, 2004.

The prosecution said on Oct 5, 2021, the men conspired, trespassed on land belonging to one Oliver Jato and cut down trees to make charcoal.

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The defendants were then confronted by Abraham Hwange, Peter Agber and the deceased, which resulted in a violent scuffle.

According to the prosecution, the convicts beat Biija to death.

NAN reports that the case was eventually transferred to the High Court following legal advice.

When the case came up, the first defendant, Zwave, pleaded guilty while all others pleaded not guilty.

The defendants testified for themselves without calling any witnesses, while the prosecution called seven witnesses to prove its case.

Prosecution counsel, R.B.N Amenger in his final written address, submitted that the rest of the defendants’ plea of not guilty was only a mere denial.

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Amenger argued that the defendants had utterly failed to raise a defence as to the commission of all the offences established but rather dwelled on mere denials and technicalities which he said were not material or fatal to the case of the prosecution.

Defence counsel, D.U Liam in his final written addresses, said that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt to warrant the conviction of the defendants.

However, the trial Justice ruled that the prosecution had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubts, saying that denying the commission of offence did not amount to not committing it.

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Kume said the burden of proof rests on the defense counsel which he failed to achieve.

Kume said he had heard the plea for mercy by the defendants and the statement by their counsel in which the Lord’s prayers were contained in the words.

He stated that the law for which he was bound to apply in the case did not have the grace contained in the Lord’s prayer.

He, therefore, sentenced them to death by hanging.

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