According to a Vanguard report, three members of a family— Azubuije Ehirio, 86; his son, Ehiodo, 33, and cousin, Ngozi Onyekwere— sentenced to death by hanging by an Abia State High Court in 2005 were, yesterday, released unconditionally from Enugu Maximum Prisons.
The family members, who hailed from Isiala Ngwa in Abia State, were convicted for murder. They were released by the Presidential Committee on Prisons Reform and Decongestion that visited the Enugu Maximum Prisons.
Chairman of the committee, Justice Ishaq Bello, who gave the order during their sitting in Enugu, said the committee after reviewing the circumstances that led to their incarceration and subsequent conviction of the inmates, was convinced that they needed to be set free.
When their matter was called up, the octogenarian told the court that they were unjustly convicted by the court and had no money to go on appeal. Ehirio said he had a dispute with a member of their community, who attempted to take their ancestral land by force.
He said armed robbers killed the man’s child, whom he gave his name as Emeka, within the same time and the man accused and arrested him.
According to him, “my son, who was living in Port Harcourt at the time, heard that I was arrested by the Police and came back. The man also arrested him along with my cousin.”
Ehirio said they were subsequently charged to court on a trumped murder charge, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Asked whether they appealed the judgment, Ehirio said their family had no money to go on appeal, adding that they had been in prison for 14 years for an offence they did not commit.
After listening to the submission and reviewing their remand notice, Bello expressed the desire of the committee to set them free.
His words: “Our decision is that we are convinced after reviewing the circumstances surrounding the case and we will let them go.
“You should be grateful to God and remain of good behaviour and never engage in dispute again.”
Bello advised them to always obey constituted authority as they go home. He added that the committee would give them N10,000 each for their transport fare back to their community.