Nigerian killer pastor to hang

Lagos, Nigeria - A Nigerian court on Thursday sentenced a self-styled pentecostal pastor to be hanged for burning to death a female member of his congregation, said reports.

Emeka Ezeugo was found guilty of killing Ann Uzo and attempting to kill five other church members by pouring petrol on them on July 22 at his church in Ajao estate, a northern Lagos suburb.

The pastor, known as the "Reverend King", whose age was variously given as 34 or 40, was a leader of the Christian Praying Assembly. He regularly made the front page of Nigeria's tabloids.

Judge Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole, in a four-and-a-half-hour summing up, found Ezeugo guilty on all six counts of murder and attempted murder, and said the pastor had given his congregation "stones for bread and scorpions for meat".

Ezeugo had pleaded not guilty.

The Reverend King, a psychology graduate, had on several occasions admitted to flogging members of his congregation, normally to punish them for alleged fornication or adultery.

The pastor's critics had also accused him of indulging in illicit sex with women who entered his sect. It was reported that Ezeugo's defence would appeal the death sentence.

Ezeugo meant "a very great king" in the Ibgo language and he was often cited by the local media as seeing himself as a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, likening his recent time in jail to the suffering of Jesus.

He said: "What happened to Jesus Christ about 2 000 years ago is what I am going through today. The difference is only that I have not been nailed to the cross."