Yesterday, Nigeria’s Supreme Court upheld Reverend King’s death sentencing as many Nigerians awaited the court’s decision with bated breath. Vanguard Nigeria reports that a seven-man panel of Justices of the apex court led by Justice Walter Onnoghen, confirmed the death sentence that was earlier handed to Ezeugo by the Lagos State High Court.
The verdict was delivered by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta. “This appeal has no merit. The judgement of the court of appeal is hereby affirmed. The prison sentence that was earlier handed to the appellant is no longer relevant in view of the death sentence passed on him,” he stated.
Before September 2006, when he was arraigned for murder after setting a few members of his church on fire, Chukwuemeka Ezeugo aka Reverend King was just a regular Nigerian pastor who shepherded the Christian Praying Assembly (CPA) located in Lagos. He was arraigned on September 26, 2006 on a six-count charge of attempted murder and murder but he pleaded not guilty to all the charges. However he was sentenced to death by the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, on January 11, 2007 for the murder of Ann Uzoh and an Appeal Court sitting in Lagos upheld his death sentence in 2013.
Although Reverend King has been in prison custody for the past 10 years, several members of his church CPA, have kept a revered image of their pastor, marking his birthday in absentia and even continuing with services. In 2014, the Nigerian Monitor reported that CPA members bought spaces in Nigerian dailies to extol Reverend King’s virtues while hailing him as the light of the world.
Nigerians have reacted to the news of King’s renewed death sentence and some tweets on twitter show that regardless of the charge against him, some Nigerians do not approve of his death sentence for their own reasons.
I am pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life. I detest capital punishment. And I disapprove of this death sentence on Rev. King!
— EmmanuelUchennaUgwu (@EmmaUgwuTheMan) February 26, 2016
A number of Nigerians allege that Reverend King has a strong hold on his members and manipulates them even from prison. This also brings to mind the fact that some men of God have taken membership loyalty a bit too far with actions exerted on their congregation. For instance, in 2015, South African pastor, Penuel Mnguni, of the End Time Disciples Ministries Church in Pretoria, reportedly told his church members that they had the authority to change everything into anything while commanding them to eat snakes declaring that they were chocolate bars.
Regardless of his crimes, Reverend King has been in prison custody for a long time and that alone can affect the psyche of anyone including a dangerous or condemned criminal. The psychological trauma of awaiting death is punishment in itself that is not to say King is not guilty of murder. Like Charles Westmoreland’s character said to Michael Scofield in the American series, Prison Break; “it is not the death that kills a man on death row, it’s the waiting.” King may be a criminal but waiting to die all these years may have a negative impact on his psyche.
A few people still do not believe King will die by hanging…
I can assure you Reverend King won’t be hanged. Watch out for manoeuvres. This is Nigeria, remember
— Kingsley Okechukwu (@Oke4chukwu) February 26, 2016
Does this stem from the general belief that anything is possible in Nigeria, even the freedom of a pastor turned murderer? What if he is granted a presidential pardon in the future even before the hanging takes place? What is the worst that could happen? Twitter outrage perhaps? But after that, what comes next?