AS EARLY as 8.00am, the court was
full with lawyers, family members,
the press and with heavy security
presence to control the crowd and
any breach of peace; all waiting the
arrival of the judge. It was the longawaited
judgement for the trial of the
gruesome murder of four University of
Port Harcourt undergraduates, Lloyd
Toku Mike, Ogonna Obuzor, Tekena
Elkanah and Chiadaka Biringa, at
Umuokiri community, Aluu in Ikwerre
local government area of Rivers State.
The victims, who were all first sons
and one only son of the family, were
said to have been paraded naked
and tortured before being burnt to
death at Coca-Cola Road in Omuokiri
community. The death, which drew
wide condemnation both from location
and international community, has been
described as the height of jungle Justice
in Nigeria, as none of the security
agencies, including the Police, Joint
Task Force, JTF, or the C4i could rescue
the boys, who were at their prime.
It was gathered that the victims had
gone to demand debt being owed
them by one Bright, another student,
around 4am on that fateful day of
October 5, 2012; and rather than settle
them, the debtor decided to shout
for help, alleging they were thieves.
For the community, it was a period
when crime and criminality, including
armed robbery and rape was at its
peak. It was therefore, an opportunity
to use the victims as scapegoats.
The long journey to Justice for the
victims started, when on October 17,
2012, the then Commissioner of Police
in the State, CP Mohammed Indabuwa
paraded 13 persons in connection to the
crime. Those paraded included; David
Chinasa Ugbaje, Chogozie Samuel,
Ekpe Daniel, Alhaji Hassan Welewa,
the traditional ruler of Umuokiri
community, Ozioma Samuel Abajuo,
Ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Endurance
Edet, Gabriel Oche, Uwem Akpabio,
George Mwadei, Lawal Segun,
Ikechukwu Louis Amadi and Cynthia
Chinwo. The accused persons were
later arraigned before Chief Magistrate
Emmanuel Woke, under charge
number PMC/2009C/2012 on two
count charges, bordering on felony
and murder, punishable under section
324 of the Criminal Code Cap 37 Laws
of Rivers State
The accused were then remanded in
the Port Harcourt maximum prison
custody by Woke, who declined
jurisdiction and sent the case file to the
Director of Public Prosecution, DPP for
advise. The case was later assigned to
Justice T.O Orji, who declined to try the
matter as one of the victims was related
to her.
The actual trial commenced in August
2013, before Justice Letam Nyordee of
the Port Harcourt High Court, where
12 persons were arraigned with 8 count
charge. While four persons, including
the traditional ruler were charged with
neglect and failure to prevent felony
when it was being committed, the
others were charged with felony, to
wit, murder, pursuant to sections 319
and section 515 of the Criminal Code,
respectively.
Throughout the period of the
trial, the judge, reminded both the
prosecution and defense Counsels
that they were all on trial as the matter
was of international interest. The trial,
which became popularly known as
Aluu 4, was however characterised
with adjournments, one of the bane of
Nigeria’s justice system.
Another setback to the trial, was the
closure of court’s in Rivers State for
almost two years due to the political crisis
in the state that crept into the judiciary.
Another glaring setback to the trial, was
when in 2015, Governor Nyesom Wike,
appointed the then Solicitor-General and
Permanent Secretary, Rufus Godwins,
who was personally prosecuting the
matter, Head of Service.
Godwins, had promised the
International community, including
Amnesty International that the state was
capable of prosecuting the matter and
get Justice for the slain four.
However, in January this year, five of
the accused, including the traditional
ruler, Alh Hassan Welewa, Okoghiroh
Endurance, Abajuo Samuel, Chigozie
Samuel Evans and Segun Lawal were
discharged and acquitted by the court
after their Counsels filed a no case
submission.
In delivering the judgement which
lasted over two hours, five years after,
Justice Nyordee stated that the boys
were victims of circumstance, as their
actiom was during odd hours. The judge
did not spare the security institution
as he regretted that none of those on
duty, including the Police at Aluu, the
DPO that ordered the withdrawal of the
patrol team, the reinforced team, the JTF
and the C4i team were either arrested or
prosecuted.
He said: “The death of the victims
is most condemnable and cannot be
justified. The victims had great hopes for
their families and society at large. The
candles of their lives were put out. The law
is unmindful to hand down a sentence in
a clear case of murder. The killing of the
four victims is a combination of several
societal ignorance and shameful failure
of security institutions to protect lives as
shown in the statements of the defence.
“No explanation can be seen as valid
why security team from Isiokpo, the
reinforcement team, the C4i, the JTF and
the Police in Aluu could not individually,
or shared intelligence prevent the death
of the boys. It also clearly shows how
security agencies were not arrested to
face Prosecution.
“To those sentenced and convicted,
they should know that human life is
sacred.
In the determining the issues, which
included; whether there is death; the
cause of death, whether accused persons
caused the death and whether the actions
of the accused persons were intended
to cause the death of the four victims,
Justice Nyordee held that the offence of
murder is self evident in section 316 of
the Evidence Act.
On whether Prosecution has proved
his case, the judge held that the burden
of proof is on the Prosecution, which
includes facts and cause of death,
which is unlawful and attributable to
the defendants. The statements of the
first defendant, Ex -Sergeant Lucky
Orji were contradictory and unreliable,
according to the judge, while the 2nd
and 3rd defendants, Ikechukwu Louis
Amadi, a.k.a. Kapoon and David
Chinasa Ogbada, respectively, made self
confessionary statements liking them to
the crime.
The judge said the case of murder
against the three convicted persons
were overwhelming. “I am therefore
satisfied that their roles in the killing of
the victims is unjustifiable and unlawful.
Their actions are intended to kill the
victims,” he said.
Justice Nyordee also held that
throughout the trial, nobody presented
themselves as victims of robbery by
the four boys, adding that it was a
mob action. Justice Nyordee further
held that the prosecution did not bring
any eyewitness to the actual killing
of the boys, except for the video and
confessional statements obtained during
investigation, by the PW1, Supol Raphael
Uzaechi, which was admitted in court
as evidence and which corroborates the
findings of the Coroner test conducted
by Dr Seleye Fubara, a Pathologist.
He, therefore, found a police officer,
Ex-Sergeant Lucky Orji, Ikechukwu
Louis Amadi, a.k.a. Kapoon and
David Ogbada, who were the 1st to
3rd defendants guilty and sentenced
them to death. He also discharged
and acquitted the 4th to 7th acquitted
defendants, namely; Abiodun Yusuf,
Joshua Ikpe, Cyril Abang and John
Ayu.
Given that judgment has been
delivered, can one rightly say that the
victims and their families have gotten
Justice for their untimely and painful
death. Like the judge rightly regretted;
where is the false alarmist, Bright, who
was at alarge during the arrests and
investigation? Why was the Isiokpo
Divisional Police Officer, DPO, at the
time not arrested and prosecuted for
ordering the patrol team out of the
crime scene? Why were the JTF and C4i
team not also prosecuted?
For the parent of one of the victims,
Mr Toku Mike, while he wished that all
the 12 accused persons were convicted
and sentenced, the names of the four
victims have been cleared of any
crime. Mike, who spoke with newsmen
shortly after the judgment, said: “I am
partially happy in the sense that the
gament of armed robbery, the garment
of criminality has been erased from the
four children that were murdered in
Aluu.. It is crystal clear that they are
innocent. They didnt steal, they didn’t
rob, they only went there to demand
money they were owed and they were
falsely charged and killed. So that is
my happiness.
“I would have been more happy if
the 12 of them were convicted and
sentenced. But the court did not
see it that way, and only three were
convicted and sentenced. One thing I
want to say again is that I thank God.
After all the trauma we went through,
the case lingering up to five years, it’s
now over.”
For the Director of Public
Prosecution, DPP, Mr Ibikiri
Otorubio, the law has no time limit
if the Police can still arrest those
that were at large during the trial.
He said: “Justice has been done and
we are glad. To those who are still
at large, there is no time limit for the
law. If the Police arrest them we will
still prosecute. We did our best. This
is one case that put me on my toes. It
was not an easy battle.”


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