The Akwa Ibom State High Court, Ibiono Ibom Division, presided over by Justice Bassey Nkanang, on Monday, sentenced one Utibe Ita, a native of Nkim in the Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of the state to life imprisonment for manslaughter.
It was gathered that the convict killed his father, Oscar Ita, and buried him in a shallow grave inside his room in the same apartment, which he shared with the deceased.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Utibe was originally arraigned on one count of murder contrary to Section 326(1) of the Criminal Code Cap 38, Volume 2, Law of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000, but the charge was later amended to manslaughter.
The convict’s confessional statement to the police revealed that he had been having a running battle with his father over some family issues.
It was gathered that Oscar disappeared between June 5 and 11, 2017, and his brother, Mr Godwin Udoisang, organised a search party for him.
Udoisang, who testified in the case, said he first inquired about his brother from the convict, who responded that he had also not seen him.
He told the court that he organised a search party to comb the surroundings and nearby bush, which yielded no fruit until he decided to search for him in the house that he lived in with the son only to discover something like a heap of earth inside the room.
He added that by the time the youth of Nkim arrested Utibe, he attempted to run away but it was too late to do so.
From the convict’s confessional statement, the autopsy report and police investigation, there was strong suspicion that the convict might have buried his father alive since he confessed to have hit him, adding that he rushed to a neighbour and borrowed a shovel used in digging the shallow grave.
The Chief State Counsel,O. P. Okpo, who led the prosecution team, stated that though there were no eyewitnesses, the confessional statement of Utibe and the circumstantial evidence were sufficient to prove the charge of murder against him.
However, the defence counsel, Lawrence Udonwa, contended that since there were no eyewitnesses, the evidence of the four state witnesses could not sustain the conviction of his client.
In his judgement, Justice Nkanang stated, “The court believes that there was mutual physical assault. A person, who unlawfully kills another in the circumstance of mutual physical assault, commits manslaughter and not murder.
“The prosecution has proven all the ingredients of murder. The court is persuaded to convict the accused of the offence of manslaughter. Consequently, the accused is sentenced to life imprisonment.”