By Walter Chike
A High Court sitting in Owerri, the Imo state Capital has sentenced eight (8) persons to death by hanging for their involvement in the brutal murder of one Nze Dominic Ohamadiaku Duru, an ex-Police officer from Izombe in Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
High Court 7, Owerri, presided over by Hon. Justice C.M.I. Egole found the accused persons guilty of murder, following an overwhelming evidence before it; even as it freed the ninth accused person-Sussana James Duru for having not actively participated in the dastardly act.
The convicted persons, who were all found guilty of first degree murder are: James Ugwuoha Duru, Fester Nuforo, Alexander Nnadi (Alias Apollo), Friday Nuforo, Jonathan Chuddy Nnadi, Chifoanu Okorie, Mattias Ohazurike and Evans Egbujor.
Delivering the landmark judgement in suit number: HOW/4C/2007, the presiding Judge analysed all the evidence before it and found eight, out of the nine accused persons guilty of conspiracy and murder.
“You are to be hanged by your neck until you are drained of your life breath and you are dead and may God have mercy on your soul,” the judgement reads in part.
All the condemned criminals were led away in handcuffs to a waiting Black Maria by armed security officials and prison guards.
Making their last comments as they were being led out by security operatives, Festa Nuforo wailed, ‘Nze Dominic was my father!; while James Ugwuoha contended in vain with his captors for a chance to shake his wife’s hand, retorting that he already knew that he would never return home alive.
As the prisoners and captives filed out of the courtroom, hand-cuffs jangling, dead -silence fell upon the courtroom.
The journey to the hangman started when the convicted persons conspired and murdered the deceased on the 3rd of March, 2005 following a protracted land matter and other sundry community issues.
According to available reports, the condemned persons had on the said day, lured the deceased to his farm land in a bush (Okpouzi) in the village where they laid siege for him and ended his life.
In an attempt to cover up their atrocity, the murderers earlier influenced the falsification of the autopsy conducted on the corpse of the deceased, alleging that he died of a natural cause. They had also touted a traditional story of the deceased being used for rituals; the diversionary steps never yielded fruits.
Following a Federal High Court ruling, the falsified autopsy was nullified and an independent autopsy ordered. The independent autopsy is said to have revealed the actual cause of the death of Nze Duru, having died as a result of “multiple homicidal injuries…”
The matter which lingered for seven years survived all intrigues adopted by the accused persons to either buy time or pervade justice.
Reacting to the judgment, first son of the deceased, Chief Emmanuel Duru described the ruling as victory for justice, even as he commended the Judiciary in the state for maintaining its status as the last hope of a common man.
He lamented the incessant killing of innocent people in the area and called on the government to take urgent steps to sanitize the area in the interest of the citizenry.
He however urged the people to flee from evil practices and turn to God for salvation.
A visit to Izombe community in Oguta LGA of Imo State, where the crime was committed revealed that while many jubilated over the landmark ruling, especially, in neighbouring villages where similar murder cases ..remain unresolved, families of the condemned persons were in grief.
Speaking to our Correspondent, a leader of thought in Izombe, who spoke on the grounds of anonymity expressed gratitude to God for what he described as ‘justice at last’.
“My brother, finally, justice has come. This is justice at last. Majority of the people who were condemned are from Amaudara village, where the murdered Nze Duru is from. Two of them are from my village, but I am happy…..
Investigations revealed that late Nze Dominic Duru is the seventh in the series of unresolved murder cases in Amaudara village. All the murder cases were committed in the bush in Amaudara, a small village in Obeabo Autonomous community of Izombe in Oguta LGA of Imo state.
Following Justice Egole’s landmark judgment, there are strong indications that relatives and friends of victims of previous unresolved murder cases in the area may raise agitations for the resuscitation of the cases of the murder of their loved ones, since they have seen that justice is possible.
Meanwhile, youths of Imo State, under the aegis of Imo Youth Congress have hailed the Judgment, describing it as victory for all lovers of truth.
National President of the Body, Comrade Prosper Nwokocha who made their position known during a telephone interview with our Correspondent also called for a review of previous unresolved murder cases in the area.
It would be recalled that following the several cases of unresolved cold blooded murder in the area, an Owerri-based tabloid (Newspoint), in one of its 2005 publications described Izombe as Imo’s Golgotha.