By Ikechukwu NNOCHIRI, AbujaIt was end of the road for Corporal Gad Barminals yesterday as an Abuja high court sitting in Maitama, sentenced him to death following his involvement in an armed robbery attack that resulted in the death of an Abuja based taxi driver, Mr Paul Ojo.
Corporal Barminals was said to have arrested the deceased driver at gunpoint, took him to a secluded spot within the Airport road in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, pumped loads of bullets into his chest and made away with his Toyota Camry marked XA398RBC.
The lifeless body of the murdered cab driver was subsequently recovered from a ditch located close to Dantata Company, after the owner of the vehicle, one Abbas Akintayo, on May 25, 2005, reported to a police station situated at Lugbe a suburb in Abuja, that his driver was missing.
Luck, however, ran out of the daredevil police officer when he went to sell the stolen vehicle in Kaduna, where underground cops who posed as buyers, arrested and handed him over to the FCT command for interrogation.
Passing judgment on him yesterday, trial Justice Ishaq Bello, maintained that a confessional statement made by the convicted officer while under interrogation, disclosed that he was guilty of culpable homicide punishable by death.
The Judge waved aside an oral denial made by the accused person before the court, as flimsy, adding that he had ab_inition consented to committing the crime in his written statement tendered as part of the proof of evidence against him.
Justice Bello maintained that the convicted officer was not able to give a convincing alibi for himself nor tell the court where he was on the day the incident took place, stressing that the fact that he was caught on the point of selling the deceased man’s car indicted him to the crime.
Corporal Barminals, hitherto attached to the Loius Edet House in Abuja, in the said statement that nailed him, admitted robbing the deceased driver at gunpoint along the games village junction in Abuja.
He commandeered the murdered driver towards airport road and repeatedly shot him when he refused to let go of his car key.
According to him, “I was on a stop and search duty with my AK_47 very close to the games village junction that day when I stopped the vehicle and entered. Along the way, I asked the driver to stop and I give me the car key, when he refused and started fighting with me, I pushed him down and shot him”.
Despite a plea of allocutus made by his counsel, Mr A.A Aliyu yesterday to the effect that he was not only a first time offender but also the breadwinner of his family, the trial Judge, went ahead and ordered his death, inline with section 221 and 298 of the penal code.
According to the Judge, “going by the overwhelming evidence before me, I am convinced that there was an armed robbery and that the accused person conceived and executed it. The fact that he was arrested in the process of selling the stolen car in Kaduna lends credence to his confessional statement earlier tendered as exhibit_1 in this case.
“The plea that he is the bread winner of his family is inconsequential considering the gravity of the offence he committed. I will not loose sight of the fact that the deceased man might have also been an irreparable loss as breadwinner of his own family.
“The convict who should be a security to the society, by committing the offence does not deserve pity, moreover my hands are firmly tied by section 229 of the penal code which provides for death penalty in a case of culpable homicide like this, therefore, the convict is hereby sentenced to death according to the provisions of the law”, the Judge held.
Meantime, the convict immediately after the judgment yesterday, while clutching a copy of the holy Bible very close to his chest, started evangelism in the open court.
He quoted copiously from portions of the holy book that said there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, even as he accused the Judge of passing judgment on him in error.
The convicted officer insisted that his travail was orchestrated by high_ranking police officers that he said had vowed to eliminate him, just as he denied writing the incriminating statement that was used against him.