2012 was a year not to forget in a hurry when then 25- year old Cynthia Osokogu, postgraduate student of Nasarawa State University was murdered in a hotel in Festac Town, Lagos State.
Now judgement has been passed as a Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Thursday convicted Okwumo Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike who were charged with the murder of Cynthia Osokogu.
Following their conviction, the trial judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, ordered that Nwabufo and Ezike should be hung by the neck until they were dead.
Cynthia Osokogu Murder: 2012 Flashback
Looking back at what really happened 5 years ago, Osokogu, was lured from Abuja to Lagos on July 21, 2012 by Nwabufo, who she had met and befriended on Facebook.
Nwabufo had paid for the deceased’s flight ticket from Abuja and lodged her in Room C1 at Cosmilla Hotel, Lake View Estate, Festac Town, Lagos, where he later, in connivance with Ezike, murdered her on July 22, 2012.
At the hotel room, the convicts had drugged Cynthia by putting Rohypnol in her Ribena drink after which they chained her hands to her back and secured same with a padlock.
A tape was thereafter fastened across her mouth to secure the materials stuffed in her mouth in place.
The convicts thereafter made away with two Blackberry mobile phones, jewelry, sex toy vibrator, passport and a pair of shoes belonging to the deceased.
The Lagos State Government had on February 8, 2013 arraigned Nwabufo and Ezike on six counts of conspiracy, murder and stealing, contrary to sections 231, 221 and 409 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
Arraigned along with them was a pharmacist, Orji Osita, who was accused of dispensing Rohypnol to the convicts without a doctor’s prescription.
Also arraigned was the second defendant’s brother, Nonso, who was accused of being in possession of the two stolen Blackberry mobile phones.
Cynthia Osokogu Murder : 2017 Judgement
On Thursday, 23rd March 2017, about five years after the crime, Justice Akinlade convicted Nwabufo and Ezike as charged by the state. Osita and Nonso were discharged and acquitted on the grounds that the state did not prove the charges of recklessness and negligence pressed against them beyond reasonable doubts.
In convicting Nwabufo and Ezike, the judge relied on the oral evidence of 10 witnesses called and the 17 exhibits tendered by the prosecution as well as the confessional statements of the accused persons.
Among the witnesses were two receptionists at Cosmilla Hotel, who booked the convicts into the hotel on the night of July 21, 2012.
Also called was the hotel manager; a pathologist, who gave the cause of Cynthia’s death as asphyxia; and the policemen who investigated the case.
In her judgment, Justice Akinlade held that though there was no direct eyewitness, the circumstantial evidences placed before the court by the state were “cogent, complete, unequivocal, compelling and leads to the irresistible conclusion that the accused persons and no one else committed the crime.”
“The first and second defendants were positioned at the scene of the crime at Cosmilla Hotel. The circumstantial evidence against the first and second defendants is compelling and cogent and leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind that they killed the deceased.
“…It is on record that the first and second defendants made confessional statements describing how they caused the death of the deceased,” the judge held.
After pronouncing them guilty, she sentenced them to 14 years imprisonment for the offence of conspiracy, three years imprisonment for stealing while she sentenced them to death by hanging for the offence of murder.
Before handing down the sentences, the judge asked the defendants if they had anything to say.
Counsel for the convicts, Mr. Victor Opara and S. Eze, urged the judge to temper justice with mercy.
Opara said Nwabufo was a first-time offender, adding that the convict was a young man who had “tremendous energy to do something worthwhile with his life.”
“I urge this court to grant him a reformative sentence,” Opara pleaded.
But in her response, Justice Akinlade said, “I have listened passionately to the allocutus of counsel. Section 221 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State says clearly that a person who commits murder shall be sentenced to death.
“In judgment, justice is required not only for the victim, but also for the society.
“In their attempt to steal Cynthia’s property, they stole her life. They were not even remorseful. But for the efforts of the police and the ministry of justice we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. This court cannot change the law.”
Finally, the judge held, “I pronounce the judgment of this court upon you, Okwumo Nwabufo and Olisaeloka Ezike, that both of you be hung by the neck, until you are dead.”