The serial killer, Gracious David West, surprised many in the Rivers State High Court on Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to killing nine young women in different hotels.
West was finally arraigned on Tuesday after he first appeared before Justice Adolphus Enebeli on Monday without a lawyer representing him.
He had during his parade in September following his arrest confessed to killing seven young women; one in Lagos, one in Owerri, Imo State, and five in Rivers State.
West had stated then, “So far, I have killed five girls in Port Harcourt; one in Owerri, and another in Lagos. I started the killing in Lagos. I took N52,000 from the bank account of the first girl I killed in Lagos. Thereafter, I went to Port Harcourt, then to Owerri, and later returned to Port Harcourt.
“After I killed a girl, I collected her phone and sold it at Waterlines and the MTN office (in Port Harcourt). I met the last girl at a club in Port Harcourt.”
But those present in court on Tuesday were bewildered when West admitted killing nine persons when the charges were read to him.
He, however, pleaded not guilty to attempting to kill his 10th victim on September 18, 2019.
He told the court that he never intended to kill her, but only tied her to a chair and left her in the hotel room.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, the prosecuting counsel, Gladys Imegwu, said it was in the best interest of the state for the Rivers State Ministry of Justice to take over the prosecution of the suspect.
She stated, “The court actually ruled on the application of the lawyer from the Ministry of Justice through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who made an application to take over the case. It is their constitutional right and the court granted the application; we are not opposed to it.
“It is for the betterment of the state and we are working together. At the same time, we made it clear that we have prosecutorial power; even the Criminal Justice Law gives us that power.”
The Principal State Counsel from the DPP office, Chidi Ekeh, said the move to take over the prosecution was to ensure that justice was served.
He stated, “We consider this case a very sensitive one, because of the fact that most of the nine victims were killed in Rivers State; so, we want to send a message to Rivers residents that lives are valued and that such an offence cannot be toyed with.
“We will prosecute this matter to its logical conclusion and ensure that justice prevails at the end of the day.”
The counsel for the defendant, Vincent Chukwu, said his client’s guilty plea was not enough to convict him of the crime.
Chukwu stated, “The offence in question is a capital offence; whether my client did it or not, the presumption is that the prosecution must still prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. So, it is not for the defendant to just say I am guilty and liable and it ends there.
“Because the punishment is death, the burden is now on the prosecution to go ahead and prove its case and we are waiting for it.
“My client has a very plausible defence, which we shall open at the appropriate time. We had fruitful deliberations with him on Monday and we hope for the best in the matter.”
Justice Enebeli ordered that West be remanded in a correctional centre and adjourned the matter till November 18, 2019, for hearing.