In what Justice Ukpa Ebitam, of a Cross River State High Court in Calabar called an ‘intentional act to kill’, maximum sentence was handed down to Mr. Godwin Elena, a retired staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the brutal murder of 22-year-old Douglas Ojugo.
Per Second News broke the story in 2015 shortly after the incident. The judge Wednesday sentenced Mr Godwin Elena to death by hanging.
Elena shot Douglas Ojugbo over suspicion that the victim was having an affair with his daughter, Mercy.
“The prosecution team was able to establish ingredients of murder against the accused. On whether it was the act of the accused that caused the death of the victim, the prosecution team placed reliance mostly on the confessional statement of the accused…clearly, the statement linked the murder to the accused, said the presiding judge.
“The prosecution team also proved the second ingredient of murder which was the intentional act. To have fired the victim twice with his pump-action gun, I agree that the killing was intentional. I hereby find the accused person guilty of murder.
“Subject to Section 319 of the Criminal Code of Cross River State, any person who commits murder is sentenced to death by hanging.”
Moments before the verdict was given, the defence counsel, Mr. Clement Ukaegbu, had pleaded for leniency.
” We finally got justice said Ogeyi Ojugbo, elder sister to the victim while speaking with Per Second News.
“We wouldn’t wish this on anyone, what we had to go through, she said.
According to Per Second News investigation at that time,the 22-year -old deceased was always seen together with his girlfriend at her father’s residence at River Basin Authority, 8 Miles, Calabar before his untimely death on March 10, 2015.
It was during one of such visits to his friend, Mercy Elewana, that her father, Godwin Elewana opened fire on him for daring to defy his warnings against visiting his daughter.
The deceased was killed days to his JAMB examination.
After days of frantic search by parents and family members for their missing son that Douglas’ parents got wind that their son had been shot and driven to the Federal Housing Police Station in Calabar.
On getting to the police station, the bereaved parents were not only shocked to learn their son’s corpse had been buried at the Goldie cemetery without their consent, but that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) also coerced their father, Augustine Ojugbo into signing an undertaking not to let anybody hear what happened or make any complaint to any authority whatsoever.
But the bereaved father, a lawyer with Kanu G. Agabi & Associates said he later found that absurd and went ahead to petition the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 6, Calabar and the National Human Rights Commission to investigate the cause of his son’s death and bring his murderers to justice.
According to eye witness account, “the girl’s father had warned the victim not to come near the daughter again. That is what we were made to understand but the two of them could not leave each other and we hear that it is because of that that the man decided to kill the boy.”
“On that fateful evening, we saw the man running after the boy who was panting and running but the man caught up with him around the basin authority gate in front of security personnel attached to the estate shooting him in the process.”
After shooting him, he dragged him into his car and drove off. All of us were running for our dear lives because, like I said, that man is dangerous and everyone around knows him for that.”
In a petition filed by the victim’s father, Mr Ojugbo, made available to Per Second News at the time, “The late Mr. Douglas Oga Augustine Ojugbo is my son, he is 22 years old. Sometimes this year, my son sold his used mini-laptop to the daughter of Mr. Elewana Godwin who lives with him at his River Basin Authority home. Mr. Elewana’s daughter (name is unknown to me at the moment), made a part-payment of the agreed sum leaving the balance.”
“My son in a bid to collect or recover the balance of his money has been visiting the home of Mr. Elewana until he ran into Mr. Elewana on his previous visits. Mr. Elewana, not pleased with the boy’s presence, inquired or demanded to know what he was doing in his house. My son tried to explain to Mr. Elewana of his transaction with his daughter. Mr. Elewana without any effort to verify the boy’s story asked him to leave his house and warned him never to visit his house again.”
“My son was about leaving when Mr. Elewana’s daughter cornered him and asked him to come on March 10, 2015 and collect the balance of his money. On that fateful day, my son went to Mr. Elewana’s house hoping to see his daughter as they agreed, but unfortunately he saw Mr. Elewana.”
“Mr. Elewana upon sighting Douglas and (without provocation) ran into his room and fetched his gun, late Douglas, my son upon sighting Mr. Elewana with a gun took to his heels to save his life.”
“However, Mr. Elewana, having made up his mind to kill my son, pursued him until he caught up with late Douglas at the gate of Basin Authority, a distance of a kilometre from his house where he shot my son first on the leg as a result of which the late Douglas fell down and to accomplish his goal, Mr. Elewana shot him the second time on the arm to make sure that my son was dead.”
“Furthermore, having accomplished his goal, he bundled the body of the late Douglas into his car and took same to the DPO Federal Housing Police Station. Mr. Godwin Elewana conspired with the DPO at the Federal Housing Police Station, Calabar, Supol Mike Ezenwenrem to get rid of the body of Mr. Douglas in order to conceal his death.”
“In furtherance of this agreement the DPO and Mr. Elewana hurriedly went and buried the body of the late Douglas in the night of March 10 at the Goldie cemetery, Calabar.”
In an answer to what must have instigated such a dastardly act by Elewana, another neighbour who also spoke on condition of anonymity described the perpetrator of the heinous crime as an “unpredictable man in the area and had in the past been accused by other neighbours in the shooting of two other people to death.”
“This judgement will serve as a deterrent to others that you cannot do what is wrong and go away with it and I think that our society will be better for it, said defense lawyer on Wednesday.