One Utibe Ita, an indigene of Nkim village in Ibiono Ibom local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, was Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment for killing his father.
Akwa Ibom State High Court, Ibiono Ibom Division, presided over by Justice Bassey Nkanang, found Ita guilty of manslaughter and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Ita was earlier arraigned on a one-count charge of murder, contrary to Section 326(1) of the Criminal Code Cap 38, volume 2 Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria 2000, in Charge No HIT/3c/2018, but had the charge commuted to manslaughter
According to the police, Ita confessed that prior to the killing, they had festering issues.
The bubble burst when the deceased, his father went missing between June 5 and 11, 2017, prompting his father’s brother, Godwin to initiate a search party.
Godwin, who testified as PW1 in the trial, said he first inquired about his brother from the accused, who responded that he had not also seen him.
He told court that he organised a search party to comb the surroundings and nearby bushes which yielded no fruit until he decided to search for him in the late brother’s house which he lived with the accused where he discovered something like a heap of freshly dug up earth. The body of the father discovered in the shallow grave.
From the confessional statement including autopsy report and police investigation, there was strong suspicion that the accused may have buried his father alive since he confessed that he hit the late father, “and he fell down”, adding that he “rushed” to a neighbour, begged and obtained a shovel used in digging the shallow grave.
O. P. Okpo , Chief state counsel who led the prosecution insisted that though there was no eye witness(es) which is one of the ingredients to prove the offence of murder, the confessional statement of the accused
and circumstantial evidence of the crime is sufficient to prove the charge of murder against the accused.
Lawrence S Udonwa, who appeared for the defence contended that since there was no eye witness (es) to the alleged offence, evidence of the four state witnesses cannot sustain the conviction of the accused person.
He argued that Exhibits 1 to 3 (Post-mortem Report, photographs of scene and body of the deceased) tendered by the Investigating Police Officer was neither an expert or maker of the exhibits.
In the course of the trial, the state called four witnesses and tendered five exhibits, while the accused was his witness.
In his first judgment, Justice Bassey Nkanang considered all arguments and submissions by parties before concluding that, “the court believed that there was mutual physical assault. A person who unlawfully kills another in the circumstance of mutual physical assault committed manslaughter, and not murder”.
“The prosecution has proven all the ingredients of murder. The court is persuaded to convict the accused of the offence of manslaughter. Consequently, the accused is sentenced to life imprisonment”, the Judge held.