The Appeal Court upheld the ruling of a lower court.
The ruling of the appellate court upheld an earlier judgment, in 1999, by the Rivers State High Court which convicted Mr. Mbachu for killing Clifford Azubuike, a Special Marshal, while on patrol duties on November 3, 1995.
In his lead judgment, Justice E. Eko dismissed the appeal filed by Mr. Mbachu against his earlier conviction and sentence to death.
“On the whole, there is no substance in the appeal. In my candid view, the appeal deserves to be, and it is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” Mr. Eko said in his judgment on May 17.
“The conviction and sentence of the appellant in the charge No.PHC/3C/96 for murder punishable with death on 15th July, 1999 are hereby affirmed,” he added.
Two other judges in the panel, C.E Nwosu-Iheme and Stephen Adah concurred in entirety with the reasoning and the conclusion of the lead judgment.
At about 6.45 p.m. on November 3, 1995, at the 1st Artillery Junction, along Aba-Port Harcourt highway, Port Harcourt; Mr. Azubuike was on a routine traffic control duty, according to court papers.
Mr. Mbachu, driving a blue bus from the Aba end of the highway, arrived at the road junction where the deceased, along with fellow Special Marshals, was checking vehicles and controlling the busy traffic.
The FRSC officers noticed that Mr. Mbachu’s vehicle had only one headlamp.
“The deceased who was about to book the bus driver drew his attention to the defective headlamp. As the deceased was examining the head lamp, the bus driver moved the vehicle and knocked down the deceased,” the court papers said.
“The bus driver immediately sped off and dragged the deceased on the road for some distance and eventually ran over the deceased,” it added.
Mr. Azubuike died on the spot and a criminal proceeding, for murder, was instituted against the bus driver at the Rivers State High Court.
On July 15, 1999, the court pronounced a death sentence on Mr. Mbachu.
Thereafter, the bus driver instituted an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Port Harcourt, against the final judgment of the trial court.
Ayodeji Adedipe, counsel to the bus driver, argued on the ground that the intrinsic and divergent evidence produced by the prosecution on the immediate facts of this case did not prove the murder charge beyond reasonable doubt.
Reacting to the judgement, Kayode Olagunju, the Rivers State Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, warned motorists who engage in violent conducts while interacting with FRSC officers performing their legal duties to have a rethink as the Corps will always ensure justice is secured to punish such illegal conducts.
Mr. Olagunju said that the FRSC will always pursue legal means to bring the culprits to book.
“The FRSC will continue to protect its men and resources in our task to evolve better and safer motoring environment in Nigeria”, the Sector Commander added.