Eagle Square Bombing: Nigerians divided over life jail for trio

Eagle Square Bombing: Nigerians divided over life jail for trio

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday, sentenced Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze to life imprisonment for masterminding the Oct. 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing near Eagle Square, Abuja.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole handed down the sentence while delivering judgment in the five counts of terrorism charge preferred against the duo by the Federal Government.

The Judge held that the prosecution, through the plethora of exhibits tendered and witnesses called, was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubts.

“I find the defendants guilty as charged and they are accordingly convicted,”Kolawole said.

But some Nigerians have reacted to the judgment, insisting that nothing short of death would mean justice to bereaved families.

“I find justice sometimes cruel; how can somebody kill others and all he could get is life jail. I don’t understand law sometimes”, fumed Mr. Eric Owei, an engineer and water technology specialist.

“This is justice. At least they got maximum sentence and you must hail the courage of the judge; in law you cannot out of emotion stray from the tenets of the law. Maximum sentence in this case is not death penalty but life imprisonment”, says a lawyer who simply identified himself as Kayode.

For Mrs Alice Ebigwe, the fact that they will the rest of their life in jail is enough lesson for others. I think justice is served in this case, she told our reporter.

The judge said having handed down a life sentence earlier in 2013 to Edmund Ebiware, who had initially stood trial with the convicts, he could not give a lighter sentence to Okah and Nwabueze.

He said that it was necessary for the maximum sentence to be given in order to ensure that justice was served in the eyes of families of those who died or sustained injuries.

The judge noted that the judiciary could not be aloof to the increasing wave of kidnapping and acts of terrorism, citing the recent abduction of the 110 school girls from Dapchi in Yobe.

Counsel to Okah and Nwabueze, Emeka Okoroafor and Oghenovo Otemu had prayed the court to show the convicts mercy, owing to the fact that they were first time offenders.

The prosecuting counsel, Mr Alex Iziyon, (SAN), however, asked the court to give the convicts the maximum sentence prescribed by Section 15 (1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act on which they were tried.

Okah, Nwabueze, Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were initially arraigned before the court on Dec. 7, 2010.

They were arraigned for their alleged involvement in the bomb blast which left about 12 people dead and several others injured.

Francis-Osvwo later died in prison custody, while Ebiware, who had his trial conducted separately, is serving life sentence upon his conviction in 2013.

The judgment which lasted about six hours has finally brought to an end litigation which started about eight years ago.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution called 17 witnesses to prove that the defendants actually committed the crime.

Okah called two witnesses including himself, Nwabueze called four witnesses.