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82-year-old village chief sentence to death for murder

Justice in court

Chief Essien Matthew Odiong, 82, the Village Head of Efen Ibom, Ika Local Government Area of the State, was sentenced to death by hanging by an Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo on Friday for murder.

The convict, who is married to 12 wives and has 60 children, went on trial for four counts, including conspiring to steal a motorcycle and murder its owner, Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom, a member of his community.

In its ruling, the court presided over by Justice Edem Akpan found the defendant Chief Essien Matthew Odiong, guilty of injecting a toxic substance into Udoma Akpan Udo Ubom, causing his death on April 26, 2017.

The late Ubom was hauled before the Efen Clan Council after being accused of being a wizard by his siblings. There, the deceased was given an oath to declare that he was not a wizard.

The judge ruled 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 hold against convict 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.”

The court further declare that “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.”

The Village Head was given three prison terms—three years for conspiring with other people who are still at large and the death by hanging for murder—as well as seven years in prison with hard labor.

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