The Supreme Court sitting in Abuja has affirmed the death sentence on a primary school teacher in Imo State, Mrs Chifoanu Virginia Okorie, for her role in the gruesome murder of late Nze Dominic Ohamadiaku Duru, an ex-Police officer and community leader from Izombe in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo, thirteen years ago.
Mrs Chifoanu had sought to overturn her conviction as one of the nine accused persons charged with murder contrary to section 319 (1) of the Criminal Code, Cap 30 Vol. 11 Laws of Eastern Nigeria 1963 as applicable to Imo State of Nigeria…”
An Owerri High Court had in May, 2013 sentenced eight persons to death by hanging after they were found guilty of first degree murder.
The convicted persons were: James Ugwuoha Duru, Fester Nuforo, Alexander Nnadi (Alias Apollo), Friday Nuforo, Jonathan Chuddy Nnadi, Mrs Chifoanu Virginia Okorie, Mattias Ohazurike and Evans Egbujor. The ninth person, Mrs Susana James Duru was freed after findings showed she did not participate in the murder act.
The murder was over dispute of a land in Amaudara village, in Obeabo Autonomous community of Izombe in Oguta LGA of Imo State.
Trouble 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 killed him.
The Supreme Court in its judgment in suit number: SC/640/2014, between Chifoanu Okorie and the State, Justice John Inyang, leading other four Justices of the Supreme Court, dismissed Mrs Okorie’s appeal to have the decision of the Owerri Court of Appeal overturned, and aligned itself with the 17th July, 2014 decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri (which affirmed the earlier death sentence passed on Mrs Okorie and seven others by an Owerri High Court).
The convicted persons had tried to manipulate the court through falsification of the autopsy conducted on the corpse of the deceased, wherein it was alleged that he died of a natural cause. Further, they alleged that the deceased was used for rituals; but the court threw out the diversionary stories.
Other Justices, Justice Musa Dattijo Muhammad; Justice Amiru Sanusi; Justice Kudirat M.O. Kekere-Ekun all supported the sentence while Justice Ejembi Eko gave a dissenting (minority) judgement.
Meanwhile, seven other related cases are yet to be determined by the apex court on the same matter relating to the murder.