A High Court sitting in Asaba judicial division has discharged one Ferdinand Nwachukwu of a-one count charge of murder, following the complainant’s decision to discontinue with the case.
The state Chief Judge, Justice Marshal Umukoro, who presided over the case, discharged the accused person standing trial for over three years on the ground that the deceased father, Alloy Amuka, testified on oath that he had forgiven the accused person, and was not interested in the matter.
Nwachukwu, 31, who pleaded not guilty to the charge hails from Isumpe in Ndokwa east local government area of Delta state, was arraigned before the court in suit No. A/46c/2015 on allegation of stabbing one Tochukwu Stanley to death over five hundred naira.
According to the second prosecution witness, Alloy Amaka, on December 3, 2015, at about 3pm he was called on phone that his son fought with someone, and he was being taken to the hospital.
He further testified that he was advised to wait for the vehicle bringing the son. When the vehicle arrived, he saw the son lying in it, but was told that the son was already dead. The son was thereafter taken to the Federal Medical Centre where he was certified dead.
In her final written address, Counsel to the State, Mrs. T.P.I Uriah submitted that though the complainant has declared intention to drop the case, by section 211 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended it was only the Attorney General who has the power to discontinue a criminal case.
She argued that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act referred to by learned defense counsel does not give liberty to criminals to go free.
On his part, the defense counsel, Mr. Kenneth Oseji, urged the court to discharge and acquit the accused person since it would be impracticable for the state to prosecute the case successfully in view of the nominal complainant’s decision to drop the case against the accused, having forgiven him.
He stressed that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2016, enjoined counsel and the court to encourage settlement of criminal matter whether or not it is a felony.
The trial Chief Judge, Justice Umukoro, held that having considered submission of both counsels, the court should respect the stance of the deceased father, even as he noted that he was reluctantly discharging the accused, not on merit, because the court was confronted with right of the state to protect its citizens, and the right of a father who has forgiven the accused person who snuffed out life from his son.
To balance the interest of the state, he ordered that the accused person to enter into recognizance of good behaviour for five years in the sum of #500, 000 with two sureties in the like sum, one of whom shall be the father after attaching a passport photograph, and a verified residential address.
The court further held that breach of the recognizance shall attract a term of three years imprisonment without an option of fine.
The discharged person, Ferdinand Nwachukwu, thanked the Chief Judge for the mercy shown to him, promising to be of good behaviour. He advised young ones not to take the law into their hand when offended.