The High Court sitting in Lafia, Nasarawa State, on Friday, April 13, sentenced a Police officer, Sergeant Vincent Manu, to death for unlawfully shooting and killing a businessman, Stephen Anakwe, after labeling him as an armed robber.
Nigerian Guardian reports that the accused was arraigned alongside five other officers – Inspectors Danladi Lenkem and Edula Ateku, who died in the process of the trial, Corporals Samson Magga and Musa Audu, as well as Christopher Maikasuwa – on a charge of criminal conspiracy to kill the deceased while they were on patrol duty.
The presiding judge, Justice James Abundega, found Manu, who carried out the shooting, guilty of murder, saying the prosecution was able to prove by cogent circumstantial evidence that the convict intentionally killed the deceased.
In his judgment, the Judge rejected the defendant’s plea of self-defence, adding that based on the evidence before him, the plea of self-defence was not plausible and that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He said the offence contravened Section 220 and punishable under Section 221 of the Penal Code. He, however, absolved the other police officers mentioned above of any wrongdoing. They were discharged and acquitted.
The judge further held that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt, all the ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide, as provided for in Section 220 of the Penal Code, adding:
“In the circumstances, the court finds the defendant guilty of the charge of causing the death of late Stephen Anakwe on January 13, 2012. He is accordingly convicted
“Before the court pronounce sentence on the defendant, given that allocutus is not applicable, in view of the mandatory nature of the sentence, it needs be said that the defendant came to his present circumstances on the account of apparent abuse of power and unbridled show of might.”He said that officers, who under the law are to perform the duties of detecting, apprehending offenders and protecting lives and property of citizens, end up oppressing, brutalising and even killing them, noting that Section 222 of the Penal Code was not applicable here, in view of the absence of any evidence or contention by the defendant that he caused the deceased’s death.
“In the light of the above, the punishment for the offence of culpable homicide, which the defendant has been convicted of, is mandatory death sentence.
“The court does not have discretion to impose any other punishment, much as it may, the law must be fulfilled at all times and in all situations. The defendant, having been convicted for the offence of culpable homicide under Section 221 of the Penal Code, as charge, is sentenced to death.
“The sentence of the court upon you is that you be hanged by the neck until you be dead,” he said.
Counsel to the convict, E.E. Dabo, whose plea to the Judge to temper justice with mercy on the fact that the convict had served the country as a Police officer for 20 years and has a family, dependents and relations, fell on deaf ears, said he would consult with his clients to know the next line of action as regards appealing the judgment.
Meanwhile, the younger brother of the deceased, Stanley Anakwe, thanked God that the court had vindicated his late brother and that justice has been done after six years of court process.
The deceased, a resident of Zaria road in Jos, Plateau State, was killed by the Police patrol team on the said date and was buried secretly in the early hours of the next day without making any efforts to contact his family members.