By Emma Njoku and Moshood Adebayo
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, will soon decide the fate of controversial pastor, Rev Chukwuemeka Ezeugo (a.k.a. Rev King) and several others on death row.
Rev. King, the General Overseer of Christian Praying Assembly, Ajao, Estate, Isolo, Lagos was sentenced to death by hanging by a Lagos High Court in 2007 for the murder of Ann Uzoh. He was further sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the ‘attempted murder’ of five other members of his church.
The controversial priest was arraigned in court on September 26, 2006, for allegedly bathing Ann Uzoh and five other members of his church with petrol and setting them ablaze. While Uzoh died, the others sustained injuries of various degrees.
King’s death sentence was re-affirmed by the Appeal Court and Supreme Court.
Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court had vacated the five 20 years jail terms handed him by a Federal High Court in Lagos and ruled that the death sentence by the court be upheld.
Ngwuta had said the facts against Reverend King were like “such scenes only seen in horror movies” and dismissed his appeal for lack of merit.
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem, yesterday, while fielding questions from journalists on the activities of his ministry, said King’s matter and several others on death row in the state are being addressed.
His words: “This government is very strong on law and order. And the case (Rev. King) is one of those that is under review. Like him, many others are on death roll. And very soon, residents of Lagos will see the action of the government on it.”
He added: “There are lot of people on death row. There are some states that have been active in enforcing the judgement. I know that many had zeroed on Rev. King.
“Lots of people are on death row. Rev. King is not the only one on death row, it is on the instruction of Ambode that I visited the prisons recently and I discussed the issue with the prison officials and they expressed concern. “We are moving in that direction .
“That showed that it is a sensitive issue. I have given you indication that we are moving towards that direction. The previous governors of this state have not signed (papers) any of those death sentences. This is because those on death row believe that they have some rights and demand privilege. It does sound blood thirst and that led to some embassies complaining over some of the state laws, but we need to understand that local factors must be considered in dealing with issues.”
Kazeem quoted prison officials as saying that there was need for the government to look at that seriously because “those on death row are beginning to think they have some rights. We are going to move in that direction, you will hear from me, but I will not tell you the exact date,” he said.
The AG also confirmed that the state government had reopened the Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha’s case assuring that the government was putting machinery in motion in this regard.
Al-Mustapha was fingered in the murder of the late wife of the late assumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, Kudirat Abiola.
Although he was linked with the murder of Mrs. Abiola, he was freed of the charge by a Lagos court. However, late last year, a court has given the state government the nod to reopen the case.
On prison congestion, Kazeem explained that the state is working with the Federal Government to address the problem, adding that Ikoyi Prison is housing 2,500 inmates instead of 800.
While highlighting the achievements of the directorate of public prosecution in the last year, he disclosed that the state secured conviction in court in the case of a former Divisional Police Officer(DPO), Segun Fabunmi who killed a fuel subsidy protester in 2011.