Nigerian preacher fails to overturn murder death sentence

2016-02-27 13:42

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Abuja – Nigeria's Supreme Court on Friday upheld a death sentence handed out nine years ago to a Christian pastor for murdering a female member of his congregation and trying to kill five others.

Pentecostal preacher Emeka Ezeugo, popularly known as "Reverend King", challenged the 2007 verdict that found him guilty of burning to death Ann Uzo and pouring petrol on the other members of his flock.

Uzo died 11 days after being set on fire in a northern suburb of the city of Lagos. The five survived with various degrees of injuries.

Ezeugo, the General Overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly, denied the charges and took the case to the Supreme Court after failing to overturn the death sentence at the Court of Appeal in 2013.

But a five-member panel of judges at the apex court unanimously upheld the original verdict.

"The facts of the case could have been lifted from a horror film," said judge Sylvester Nguta in the panel's ruling.

"Having considered the arguments of parties in this matter, I am of the view that the appeal has no merit.

"The appeal is hereby dismissed and the judgement of the Lagos High Court, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal is hereby affirmed."

The Reverend King, a psychology graduate, on several occasions admitted flogging members of his congregation, normally to punish them for alleged fornication or adultery.

His critics also accused him of indulging in illicit sex with women in his congregation.

Ezeugo means "a very great king" in the Igbo language. He was often cited in local media likening himself to Jesus Christ.

"What happened to Jesus Christ about 2 000 years ago is what I am going through today," he once told a newspaper reporter who visited him in a Lagos prison.

"The difference is only that I have not been nailed to the cross."

Nigerian courts, including those in the Sharia (Islamic legal) system that runs parallel to federal and state justice in mainly Muslim northern states, frequently hand down capital punishments.

But no prisoner has been executed since 2013, when four death row inmates were hanged despite having appeals pending. Before that, no execution had been carried out since 2006.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa

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