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CHUKWUEMEKA EZEUKO (ALIAS DR. REV. KING) v. THE STATE

(2016) LPELR-40046(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 26th day of February, 2016

SC.200/2013


Before Their Lordships

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

CHUKWUEMEKA EZEUKO
(ALIAS DR. REV. KING) - Appellant(s)

AND

THE STATE - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION This is a Criminal Appeal FACTS At all material times the appellant, Chukwuemeka Ezeuko, alias Dr. Rev. King, was the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly with headquarters at Ajao Estate, Ikeja, Lagos. A father/sons/daughters relationship existed between the appellant and some of his congregation, particularly the surviving five victims of the July 22nd, 2006 incident and the deceased (victim). The appellant accused the surviving victims and the deceased of immoral behaviour. He summoned them and beat them with various objects. At the peak of his fury, he caused them to knee down huddled together in an open space on his premises. It was alleged that while they were kneeling down he caused them to be doused with fuel and a burning match to be thrown on them. Five of the six victims managed to escape with various injuries inflicted on them by the appellant during the beating and burns from the burning fuel. The deceased, Ann Uzoh King was not as lucky as her colleagues. She was alleged to have suffered 65% degree burns from which she later died. The Appellant was subsequently charged to Court for attempted murder and murder. He was found guilty as charged and was sentenced to various terms of imprisonment for the attempted murders and to death for the murder. His appeal to the Court of appeal failed hence this appeal to the apex Court. ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION Appellant distilled 12 issues for determination which the Court adopted viz: "1. Whether the trial of the Appellant on the amended information in this case is competent when the original information is undated, uninitiated and unfiled and whether failure of the lower Court to consider and decide on this issue as raised in Appellant's Brief of argument is proper. 2. Whether the lower Court is obliged to invite parties to address it on the issue it raised suo motu before expunging some from its record when delivering it (sic) judgment, any evidence that was admitted without objection. Was the lower Court right in raising the issue of inadmissibility of Exhibits P1, P4 and P9 as well as part of the oral evidence if PW2, PW5 and PW1 suo motu from the record when delivering its judgment without hearing the Appellant, and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of the Appellant despite the fact that the evidence adduced by investigating Police Officer (PW2) lack credibility. 3. Whether the lower Court was right to have dismissed the defence of alibi put up by the Appellant, and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant by the trial Court despite the fact that the trial Court place (sic) the burden on the appellant to prove his innocence by not giving effect to the written statements of the deceased, in which she unequivocally stated that what happened to her was caused by generator accident. 4. Whether PW1 is a tainted witness whose evidence required corroboration and in the absence of which her evidence should be treated as unreliable. 5. Whether the lower Court was right when it held that the evidence of PW3 and PW4 were (sic) corroborated by the evidence of PW1, PW8, PW9 and PW10 as well as other real evidence before the Court; was the lower Court right when it relied on the uncorroborated evidence of PW1, PW3, PW4, PW9, PW10 and PW11 adduced by the prosecution at the trial Court to uphold the appellant (sic) conviction for attempted murder and murder, and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant despite the fact that the trial Court was saddled with the responsibility of conducting investigation with respect to the genuity of Exhibit (sic) PW10, P11 and P12 as the prosecution had failed to prove the said Exhibits against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. 6. Whether the lower Court properly evaluated the evidence of the parties before arriving at the decision to convict the appellant, and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant despite the fact that the trial Court in evaluating the evidence adduced by the prosecution has not established by credible evidence and beyond reasonable doubt the it was the appellant that caused the burnt (sic) injuries, consequently resulting to the death of the deceased and that the deceased ??? Ann King is dead. 7. Whether the lower Court was right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant by the trial Court despite the fact that the charges were brought by the prosecution against the appellant without any credible and reasonable suspicion that the appellant committed the offences of attempted murder and murder, and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant, that the prosecution proved the cases of murder and attempted murder against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt when the prosecution failed to prove the ingredients of the offences of murder and attempted murder beyond reasonable doubt. 8. Whether the lower Court duly considered the contradictions and inconsistencies complained of by the appellant in the prosecution's case and arrived at its decision that they are not material to be fatal to the prosecution's case. 9. Whether the lower Court was right to have agreed with the trial Court that it considered and evaluated all evidence adduced as against the appellant complained that the trial Court considered the evidence of prosecution witnesses and made up its mind before considering the evidence of the appellant (sic) witnesses which show bias. 10. Whether the belief of the deceased in danger of approaching death can be inferred from his declaration or statements, surrounding circumstances or opinion of third parties and whether the contention of the appellant that the deceased (sic) belief in danger of approaching death can be garnered and inferred from surrounding circumstances and evidence is correct and was the lower Court right when it upheld the conviction of appellant despite the fact that Section 33 (1) (b) of the Evidence Act relied on by the trial Court to hold that the first two statements of the deceased does (sic) not constitute dying declaration as the accused did not believe herself to be in danger of approaching death is founded in law. 11. Whether the lower Court was right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant despite the fact that the trial Court failed to reach the conclusion from the conduct of the Honourable Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the matter that the prosecution (sic) are interested in persecuting the appellant and not prosecuting him. 12. Whether the lower Court was right when it upheld the conviction of the appellant for the offence (sic) of attempted murder and murder despite the fact that no weapon was found or recovered from the accused/appellant." HELD In a unanimous decision, all the twelve issues formulated by the appellant were resolved against him. Consequently, it was held that the appeal is bereft of merit and same was dismissed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal which had affirmed the judgment of the trial Court was affirmed. The prison terms for attempted murder were held to be no longer relevant and were discountenanced in view of the death penalty affirmed.


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