Ozubulu Massacre: Judge Orders Prohibition Of Phones In Court
By Nedum Noble
Justice F.I. Aniukwu, the judge presiding over the case of the shooting at St Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu at the Nnewi High Court, Anambra state, has ordered the prohibition of telephone during next court proceedings.
He also ordered that nobody should be allowed to stand inside and outside the court on the next adjourned date.
The order came following a near commotion that erupted in the court as security operatives tried to stop people from taking photographs of the suspects after the court session.
The court premises was reportedly filled to capacity with most of the people who came to witness the court proceedings were Ozubulu indigenes based in South Africa.
Four suspects — Great Chinedu Akpunonu, 44; Vincent Ike, 57; Chukwudi Ugwu, 30, and Onyebuchi Mbanefo, 46 — were arraigned on 24 counts bordering on conspiracy and murder.
Others allegedly involved in the shooting were you still at large.
There was however a mild drama at the court when one of the accused persons started pointing accusing fingers at an accomplice.
A star witness, Mr. Chukwujekwu Eze, during the court session, narrated how one of the suspects invited him to participate in the attack against Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu (AKA Bishop) over an unpaid debt.
Eze, the second witness, who hailed from Ugbawka in Enugu State, told the court that he lived in South Africa for 11 years before he was deported, adding that he had remained unemployed since his deportation.
Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Jay Jay Ezeuko, SAN, Eze said,“There is a boy named Okpanda, who told me that they were going to the Bishop’s place at Ozubulu to execute a job. I asked him the nature of the job and he told me that they were going because Bishop owed some people some money in South Africa. He said they wanted to go and destroy everything in Bishop’s house and shoot at every living thing.
“I asked him who was sponsoring the job and he told me it was Obrocho. When I mentioned it to Okpanda, he said he would assist me if I could follow to carry out the job. I told him I did not want to shed any blood.
“Okpanda invited me so he could explain the whole thing to me and when I went there the following day, he told me it was only if I took part in the job that he would help me to go back to South Africa. It was in Okpanda’s place that I met Dobby (Onyemaechi Mbanefo), the fourth accused and two of them tried to convince me to join them. I refused.
“After the shooting in the church, I saw Okpanda again and he told me that they had done the job and when I asked if he could help me since they had made the money, he told me he couldn’t help me since I refused to join in the job.
“I then told him I was going to approach Bishop since there was nobody else to help me. He told me not to go to Bishop because the Bishop would arrest me.
“I later decided to approach Bishop because of the level of the massacre in the church in which the Bishop’s father was among those killed.” he said.
Cross-examining the witness, counsel to the first accused person, Mr. Festus Keyano, SAN, put it to him that it was in his desire to return to South Africa that made him approach Bishop after the shooting, adding that Bishop might have already concluded arrangements for him to travel to South Africa.
He, however, denied that Bishop had made arrangements for him to travel, adding “I don’t even have an international passport.”
The Judge will on February 23, 2018, rule on the application for bail for the accused persons, while hearing on the matter would continue on March 3rd, 2018.
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