General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo a.k.a. Rev King must die by hanging, the Court of Appeal in Lagos held yesterday.
It upheld the judgment of a Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, which earlier convicted and sentenced him to death by hanging. Ezeugo was handed the maximum sentence on January 11, 2007, for the alleged murder of a church member, Ann Uzoh. In a unanimous verdict yesterday, Justice Fatima Akinbami, who read the lead judgment, dismissed Ezeugo’s appeal. “The evidence is overwhelming and damning. He was offering them stone when they demanded for bread. He was giving them scorpion when they demanded for fish,” the justice said.
Ezeugo was arraigned on September 26, 2006 on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder. The prosecution said he poured petrol on the deceased and five other persons. Uzoh died on August 2, 2006, 11 days after the incident. Ezeugo was accused of spraying six members of his congregation with petrol and setting them ablaze, which allegedly led to the death of Ms Uzor. He was said to have become suspicious of Uzor, alleged to be one of his sex slaves, and had accused her of being unfaithful, setting her on fire as punishment.
The prosecution said he also flogged erring members of his congregation and caused them to pay an average of N25,000 when they made noise in the church or disturbed religious proceedings. The appellate court held that the prosecution, Lagos State Government, effectively proved its case against Ezeugo.
“This appeal fails and is hereby resolved against the appellant. This appeal is devoid of merit and it is hereby dismissed. “The conviction and sentence passed on the appellant on January 7, 2011 by Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja Division is hereby affirmed,” the justice said. The court disagreed with Ezeugo’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo’s submissions that there were contradictions in the testimonies of some of the prosecution witnesses. He had claimed that some testified that the cleric ordered for matches to set the victims ablaze while others claimed he only ordered for matches after a lighter failed. Akinbami said the contradictions were irrelevant. Her words: “Not all contradictions in the case of the prosecution will raise a doubt.
“For contradictions to be fatal to the prosecution’s case, it must be related to the material fact. “All the witnesses are unanimous that the appellant used matches.” According to the justice, eyewitnesses and the evidence of a pathologist proved that the cleric caused Uzor’s death.