A 82-year-old Village Head of Efen Ibom, Ika Local Government Area of the State, Chief Essien Matthew Odiong has been sentenced to death by hanging for murder.
The judgment was passed on Odiong by an Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo.
The convict, who is married to 12 wives with 60 children, was standing trial on a four count charge of conspiracy, directing unlawful trial by ordeal, stealing of the motorcycle and murder of the owner, a member of his community, Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom.
In a judgment, the Court presided over by Justice Edem Akpan, found the accused guilty of murder of Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom by injecting some chemical substance on him, leading to his death on 26th April, 2017.
The late Ubom was accused by his brothers of being a wizard and was reported to the Village Head, who brought him before the Efen Clan Council, where the deceased was given an oath to swear that he was not a wizard.
The Court held that “having sensed the consequences of his criminal activity, the monarch escaped from the Village in 2017 and returned in 2019, when he was arrested by the Police.”
Justice Akpan also held that since “the accused had voluntarily admitted that he sat at Efen Clan Council with five other village heads and members of the Clan Council to try the deceased on the allegation of witchcraft, the law has relieved the prosecution of the burden to prove the offense of conspiracy.”
According to the court, “the admission of the process of trial and the decision of Efen Clan Council to administer oath on the deceased has logically brought to the conclusion that a plastic bath on the head of the late Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom and injecting some chemical substance through a syringe into his buttocks by the village head, caused the death of the deceased.”
Justice Akpan sentenced the Village Head to death by hanging for murder, seven years imprisonment with hard labour for directing unlawful trial by ordeal and three years imprisonment for conspiracy with others now at large.