By Onozure Dania
A Lagos State high court in Igbosere, yesterday, sentenced Okwumo Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike to death by hanging for killing Cynthia Osokogu, who they lured from Nasarawa State to Lagos before strangling her to death at a hotel in Festac Town, Lagos, in 2012.
Justice Olabisi Akinlade declared that after carefully analysing the evidence presented before the court, testimonies of prosecution witnesses and confessional statements the convicts made to the police, she was left with no doubt that the convicts killed Ms. Osokogu.
The convicts were arraigned on a six-count charge of conspiracy, murder, stealing, recklessness, negligence and possession of stolen goods, alongside Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso.
Justice Akinlade also found them guilty of the second charge of committing felony by stealing her Blackberry phone, saying the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convicts intended and, in fact, took the life of the deceased in the process of stealing her phone and belongings.
She also found the duo guilty of the first and third charge— conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to steal.
The judge rules
Justice Akinlade said: “In judgement, justice is required not only for the victim, but also for the society. In their attempt to steal Cynthia’s property, they stole her life..
“But for the efforts of the police and the Ministry of Justice, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. They didn’t even feel remorseful and even came to the court to tell lies. This court cannot change the law.
“I pronounce the sentence of this court upon you, Okwumo Echezona Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike, that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead and may God have mercy on your souls.”
During the proceedings, 10 witnesses gave evidence and 17 exhibits were tendered.
The court initially foreclosed the rights of the second convict, Ezike, to file his address. The judge made the order due to the delay by his counsel to file his final written address.
The judge said there were several adjournments by the court to enable the second convict file his address, but the counsel chose to sleep on the right of his client.
However, after the excuse of ill-health and change of counsel were given as reasons for the delay, the judge allowed the address to be regularised.
The murder trial began on February 8, 2013, with the state calling the hotel’s receptionist as its first witness.
Cynthia Osokogu, then a postgraduate student of Nasarawa State University, met Mr. Eloka on Facebook and was lured to Lagos, where she was murdered on July 22, 2012, at Cosmila Hotel, Lakeview Estate, Festac Town.
Orji Osita, a pharmacist, was discharged of the charge of recklessness and negli-gence for selling drugs without prescription, which the accused used in drugging the deceased.