BY GBENGA ARIYIBI
ADO EKITI — For playing a lead role in the case of a missing National Youth Service Corps member, Miss Anthonia Okeke, who was serving at Ilawe Ekiti, a 26‑year-old commercial motorcyclist, Theophilus Pius, is to die by hanging.
This was the verdict of an Ikere Ekiti High Court presided over by Justice Adegoriola Adeleye.
In the case that lasted six years, the judge equally sentenced Pius to 10 years imprisonment for kidnapping Anthonia, which ultimately led to her death in the hands of ritualists.
Anthonia, a Chemical Engineering graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, who lost her father, Pa Raphael Okeke, to stroke last month, owing to the circumstances of her disappearance, was kidnapped in Ilawe Ekiti in Ekiti South-West Local Government Area of Ekiti State on December 19, 2008 by Pius and his gang during his service year.
The late corps member is from Umuno Ndiuno in Ezeagu Local Government of Enugu State.
Delivering his judgment, yesterday, Justice Adeleye said he found the evidence adduced by the Director of Public Prosecution from the state Ministry of Justice, Mr Adeleye Familoni, against Pius as having probative value and reliable enough to convince him that the accused person was guilty of the case.
He said: “I want to submit that the prosecution counsel has been able to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt. He has been able to establish that the defendant is culpable and no criminal shall go unpunished in the face of law.”
Justice Adeleye, therefore, ruled that Pius should die by hanging, having found him guilty of murder, even as Pius is to serve 10 years jail term for his complicity in the kidnap of the late corps member.
Commenting on the judgment, Anthonia’s elder brother, Mr Obinna Okeke, said the judgment had proved that those with criminal intentions cannot have their way as long as the government is determined to apply the relevant laws against them in a diligent manner.
He thanked the state Ministry of Justice, the police, human rights groups and the NYSC for their doggedness in the pursuit of the case.
Also, the state DPP, Mr Familoni, in his comment hailed the judgment,saying it was a victory against evil doers and those who are desirous of making money through fraudulent means
He added that the ministry will continue to help the society in tightening noose against those with criminal tendencies in the state.