This is what happens when death row becomes a place of life. A full-page congratulatory communication published on DATUNE TV on February 27 was a remarkable reminder that Rev. Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, better known as Rev. King, has not been hanged despite a Supreme Court ruling.
Under the banner, “Congratulations to our Daddy G. O.”, the communication began: “We the entire members of St. Faith Women (The Daughters of the Kingdom of God) heartily rejoice with our lovely Daddy G.O. His Holiness, The Most Honourable Dr. Rev. King, Founder/General Overseer of CPA Church Worldwide on the occasion of his birthday which comes up today, Sunday the 26th day of February 2017.” This happened because King has not been hanged.
The advertisers continued: “Daddy, you are the light of the world. A nation without you is in total darkness. Daddy, you are a wonderful counselor, prince of peace, a great deliverer, our redeemer, a hope for the down-trodden. You have proven to us beyond reasonable doubt that truly salvation belongeth unto the Lord and your blessing is upon your people.” This happened because King has not been hanged.
Things happen when a death row convict is still alive a year after what was supposed to be the final judicial pronouncement on his case. More things were said about King in the advert space: “Widows, widowers, barren, the sorrowful have found joy, freedom, salvation from you. You alone singlehandedly taught us how to live a holy and righteous life. Barren in our midst have conceived and are mothers in their respective homes. You have delivered so many of us from inability to get married. So many of us whom you delivered from mammy-water group, ogbanje group, witches and wizards groups are happy today because we located you. Some of us who were bound with chains, feathers, shackles, handcuffs, spiritual iron belt of Satan, etc. have been freed from our respective prisons where Satan kept us for decades. Today, we are enjoying our freedom.”
Perhaps not unexpectedly, the promoters got more enthusiastic as the promotion progressed. They said: “Era of poverty, suffer-suffer have become a thing of the past in our lives. So many of us you healed from cancers, fallopian tube blockages, moving objects, bleeding, HIV/AIDS, barrenness, fibroid, etc. are blessed to have met with our maker face to face.” This deification of King happened because he has not been hanged.
What followed was straight out of the realm of unreality: “Daddy, it has been proven beyond measure that you are 100% innocent of the conspiracy levelled against you. So many hidden truths have been exposed according to your messages. No amount of gossips, scandals, hatred, can deter us from following you.” This attempted revision of reality happened because King has not been hanged.
How did King become a death row prisoner? King’s trial began at the Lagos High Court in Ikeja on September 26, 2006. The cruel cleric was accused of the murder of a member of his church, Ann Uzoh, and attempted murder of five other members. He was said to have set the deceased and the others ablaze after bathing them with petrol for alleged immoral behaviour.
Uzoh died from her burns on August 2, 2006, 11 days after the savagery. The trial judge, Justice Olubunmi Oyewole (now a Justice of the Court of Appeal), who delivered his judgement on January 11, 2007, found King guilty and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment for attempted murder. In addition, King got a death sentence for murder. The Court of Appeal backed the death sentence. The Supreme Court, by its supreme judgement on February 26, 2016, supported the supreme sentence of death by hanging.
Murderers are penalised not only for murder; they are also penalised so that others may not become murderers. It is thought-provoking that a report said: “During the first church service after the Supreme Court verdict at the Lagos headquarters at Ajao Estate, Pastor Ifeanyi King, who preached, said: “Our G. O. (General Overseer), the Most Holiness, Rev. King, is coming back. He said he would come back and we believe the words of his mouth. We believe his report that he is coming back. Everything happening now we know is the handiwork of witches and wizards. Soon a new story will emerge.”
Perhaps a new story is emerging, considering the content of the communication to mark King’s latest birthday on February 26. Indeed, King’s promoters need to clarify their claim: “it has been proven beyond measure that you are 100% innocent of the conspiracy levelled against you.”
Curiously, King may live longer than his death sentence intended because, according to a report quoting a Prisons spokesman, there are no fewer than 1,639 inmates awaiting execution. This overpopulation is inexcusable. As long as the death penalty is accommodated by the country’s justice system, there is no justification for keeping condemned convicts waiting. It is unclear how long these death row convicts have been waiting; it is anti-justice for the political authorities to perpetuate their wait.
It is complex enough to arrive at a death decision, and the complexity should not be further complicated by last-minute indecision when it comes to executing the decision. If judges are able to reach a death decision without the interference of extra-judicial considerations, the political authorities should be able to carry out the decision without the hindrance of extra-legal thoughts.
If murder is the ultimate crime and death is the ultimate punishment, then ultimate crime deserves ultimate punishment. It is important to bring closure to this human drama of inhumanity. The longer King is allowed to live after the ultimate judicial decision, the longer it will take to close the murder case.
It is interesting that King’s promoters called him “The man of the moment, every moment and the final moment.” They said emphatically in the birthday communication: “KING FOREVER! LIVE FOREVER!” But it is well known that no man lives forever, particularly a man on death row; and King’s promoters should know that.
What’s the point of a death sentence that is not put into effect? What happened because King has not been hanged could happen again. More things could happen because King has not been hanged. Why has King not been hanged?