BY PETER DURU, MAKURDI
After taking the life of his heartthrob, Air Craft Woman Oladipupo Solape also known as Shomzy, Air Craft Man Bernard Kalu, a Regular Airman of the 533 Central Armament Depot at the Makurdi Air Force Base was Wednesday night sentenced to death by hanging by a Special Court Marshal set up by the Nigerian Air force to try him for killing a colleague whom he shared intimate relationship with at the Base.
It was indeed a tale of love that went sour between the two Air Force personnel who had had a blistering love affair which unfortunately came crashing like a pack of cards. And Like the tale of Romeo and Juliet both were apparently destined to pay the ultimate price.
Kalu’s journey to the gallows started last March when he deliberated shot and killed Solape whom he was so much in love with.
Saturday Vanguard gathered at the time that ACM Kalu shot his colleague and girl friend to death for allegedly having an affair with a civilian personnel at the Base.
An eyewitness had revealed at the time that the incident happened shortly after Kalu closed from his routine duty about 6am and went straight to the official residence of his supposed lover, only to find her in bed with a civilian male friend.
The enraged ACM was said to have pulled out his service gun and shot the lady on the neck and also attempted to shoot her male friend who narrowly escaped being hit by his bullets.
He also attempted unsuccessfully to take his own life before he was apprehended by neigbours who took him to the command’s Quarter Guard for detention.
Solape was rushed to the Makurdi Air Force Hospital and later the Benue State University Teaching Hospital where she eventually died.
The murder of Solape came as a rude shock to colleagues and neigbours who couldn’t fathom the mind bugling collapse in their love affair.
Close friends of the two military personnel claimed that the pair began dating shortly after they met at a parade in Makurdi from where they struck a love-cord.
Before the heinous shooting, ACM Kalu was said to have left a suicide note in which he tried to justify his action.
In the said note, he made no apologies for his plans. Part of the said note read, “most idiots would insult me but I would rather be called a crazy lover who died for heartbreak.
“It’s a privilege for me writing this note because it would be read by most men. It’s a love story of a guy falling in love with a wrong witch who pretended to be good in my eyes and in the eyes of my loving mother.
“I am a simple guy who never partook in nefarious activities. Most individuals say I have a future, here it is. Am a guy who pulled two rounds in a witch and one round to my fucking body.
“For it is said he who kills by the sword shall die by it. Most idiots would insult me, yes! If I were to be in their shoes I would do the same likewise. If they were to be in my shoes, they would even pull more than three rounds on the witch. Call me crazy lover who died for heartbreak.”
After perpetrating the act, Kalu was immediately arrested for questioning by the Force.
Consequent upon that, the Nigeria Air Force, NAF, immediately constituted a 10-man Special Court Marshal for Kalu’s trial and he was subsequently arraigned for the first time on May 22nd., this year.
At the hearing which held at the NAF Base Makurdi, President of the court, Group Captain Elisha Bindul, read out the eight-count charge of murder, house breaking, impersonation, attempt to commit murder, failure to perform military duties and losing service property to the accused.
He explained that the accused was charged with losing service property at Corporal and Below Quarters, Compound Nine, wherein on the said date he lost three life rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition out of 40 issued to him for base defence duty.
The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges read to him. His counsel, Mr. Ada Tsobaza, who applied for adjournment informed the court that the charge sheets were only made available to him on Sunday, adding that he needed time to prepare his defence.
The prosecutor did not object to the application. In his ruling the Court President adjourned the case to June 2 for the commencement of hearing.
The trial of the 21 year old ACM Kalu went on in line with the laid down rules and ethics of the military and last Tuesday he was sent to the hangman’s noose.
Reading out the almost 70 paged court findings which lasted for over two hours, the Judge Advocate, Flight Lieutenant Moses Umoh listed the charges against Kalu which included murder, house breaking, impersonation, attempted murder, failure to perform military duty, loss of service property, disobedience of service order as well as prejudice of service discipline.
Umoh noted that the accused pleaded not guilty to all the count charges adding that prosecution brought 13 witnesses while three witnesses including the accused were called by the defense counsel.
He stated that “even though prosecution found him guilty on all the eight count charges, defense, in closing their case said prosecution had not proved the case beyond reasonable doubts.”
The defense counsel, Abimiku Ewuga had urged the court to temper justice with mercy in their sentence especially as the accused was a first time offender and the bread winner of his family.
But delivering his judgement, President of the Court, Group Capt. Elisha Bindul who found the accused guilty in six out of the eight-count charges preferred against him sentenced him to death by hanging but subject to the confirmation of the conveying authority.
Defence counsel . “we will surely move to the court of appeal as this court marshal is not the final stage.”
On his part, the Prosecution Counsel, Oluremi Ilori lauded the judgement stating that everybody including the deceased would be happy with the outcome of the trial.