By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
One of the killers of the Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission, Chief Simeon Akpane, has been sentenced to death by the state High Court 2, sitting in Yenagoa.
Kurotimi Clarkson, 27, an only son, said to be a member of the three-man gang that shot the BSIEC scribe in the head in 2014, the court held, was found guilty of a one-count charge of murder.
Justice Margaret Akpomiemien, in her judgment, maintained that all the elements that constitute murder in law, had been successfully proven by the prosecution team from the Office of the Special Prosecutor on Violent Crimes and other Related Offences, led by Arthur Andrew.
The judge held that the plea of alibi by the convict was inadmissible, as the court was convinced that Clarkson, a father of two, was on the scene of the crime on October 10, 2014, when the incident happened.
Justice Akpomiemien further held that the International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI, on the pack of the phone which was snatched from the deceased, as presented to the court by the deceased’s wife and through which the convict was traced, were exactly the same.
Of the three suspects, however, only Clarkson was convicted, as the others, including Freedom Allen, said to have pulled the trigger, had escaped from the federal prisons in Okaka, Yenagoa.
Akpomiemien concurred with the testimony of the wife of the deceased, who on hearing the voice of her husband just outside the door having an argument with his assailants came out to see her husband suddenly shot by the trio before taking off.
According to the judge, who recalled the particulars of the case, Allen, now at large had approached the convict, his friend, complaining about the hardship in the land.
They thereafter journeyed on a tricycle from Biogbolo through Otiotio, where they reportedly saw the vehicle of the deceased BSIEC employee, trailed him to his house, before shooting him at close range during an argument that ensued.
The court recalled that investigations showed that the culprits were traced through the stolen phone which was sold to one Mallam Ibrahim Abubakar for N5,000.
“I have carefully examined the evidence and exhibits. The prosecution has established its case. The prosecution has proved that the action of the accused caused the death of the deceased,” Akpomiemien held.
She added that though the accused did not directly pull the trigger that killed the BSIEC scribe, all the ingredients for conviction for a case of murder, which was carried out by the use of a locally-made revolver, had been met.
“I have carefully considered the fact that he is a first offender. But the court lacks discretion in this case. The sentence of this court is that you be hanged until you be dead. May the lord have mercy on your soul,” the judge held after changing into a black cloak.
Akpane, aged 48, an indigene of Ofoni in Sagbama council area of the state, was shot in the head at close range on October 10, at about 8p.m., in front of his residence at Bethel Church Close, off Otiotio Road, Yenezue-Gene, Yenagoa, in front of his door, while returning from an outing.
Allen, who escaped from custody, according to the Department of State Services which first investigated the matter at the time, shot the BSIEC scribe while he was struggling with the other attackers.