The Lagos State Government on Friday hailed the verdict of the Supreme Court which upheld the judgment of a Lagos High Court sentencing the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (popularly known as Rev. King) to death by hanging. The apex court, in a lead judgment delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, dismissed the appeal filed by Rev. King for lacking in merit, and held that the facts of the case were ”like what you see in a horror movie.”
Reacting to the verdict, the State Government, through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem said the judgment was another confirmation of the seriousness of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration to be decisive in fighting crime in the state.
The Commissioner said: “This is just another confirmation that the government of his Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is going to be very strong on fighting crime. Wherever a crime is committed, no matter how long it takes, the government of Lagos State will ensure that the perpetrators of those crimes face justice eventually. “I salute the institution called the Supreme Court for this erudite judgment and I want to assure the public that we will continue and we will not relent in our fight to make Lagos a safer, secure and more prosperous state,” Kazeem said.
In December 2015, the apex court, presided over by Justice Walter Onoghen, had adjourned for judgment after entertaining arguments from counsel to prosecution and defence in the matter. Kazeem, who led the prosecution team alongside Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and other senior counsel from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, had urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the judgment of the lower courts.
Rev. King was arraigned on September 26, 2006 before a Lagos High Court on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder. He pleaded not guilty to the allegation but was sentenced to death by the then Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on January 11, 2007, for the murder of one of his church members, Ann Uzoh.
Justice Oyewole is now a judge of the appeal court sitting in the Calabar division. The Lagos State Government had said that the convict poured petrol on the deceased and five other persons and that Uzoh died on August 2, 2006 – 11 days after the act was perpetrated on her. Specifically, Rev. King was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the attempted murder, and death by hanging for the offence of murder.
Dissatisfied, he challenged the verdict before the Court of Appeal in Lagos, but the appeal was thrown out. “I hereby rule that the prosecution effectively discharged the burden of proof on it. This appeal is devoid of any basis and accordingly fails,” Justice Fatimo Akinbami had said while reading the judgment.
“The judgment of the High Court is hereby affirmed, and the conviction imposed on the appellant (which is death by hanging), is also affirmed,” Amina Augie and Ibrahim Saulawa, the two other members of the Appeal Court panel of Justices, concurred with the lead judgment. Again, Rev. King not being satisfied with the Appeal Court verdict, approached the Supreme Court for invalidation of the judgment, but has now failed with the final decision of the apex court.