Okon Bassey in Uyo
An Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo has sentenced Chief Essien Odiong, an 82-year-old Head of Efen Ibom, a community in Ika Local Government Area, to death for murder and conspiracy to murder.
The court, presided over by Justice Edem Akpan, found the village head guilty of murdering Udoma Ubom by injecting some chemical substance on him, leading to his death on April 26, 2017.
The judge delivered the decision of the court on Friday after establishing the village head was guilty of Ubom’s murder by using a syringe to inject lethal substance into the buttock of the deceased.
In its decision, the court said: “Having sensed the consequences of his criminal activity, the monarch escaped from the village since 2017 and returned in 2019, when he was arrested by the police.”
“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.
“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 Ubom and injecting some chemical substance through a syringe into his buttocks by the village head, caused the death of the deceased.”
The court therefore 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.
Before he was sentenced, the convicted village head pleaded for leniency, asking the court to show him mercy.
Odiong, married to 12 wives with 60 children, was sentenced to death for murdering Ubom in Efen Ibom in Ika Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.
He stood trial on a four-count charge of conspiracy, for directing unlawful trial by ordeal and stealing of the motorcycle and murder of the owner and a member of his community.
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.