Ozubulu Massacre: Court Relocates To Awka Over Threat To Life
*witness accuse suspects of demanding $1m to forestall attack
By Nedum Noble
One of the main witnesses in the August 5, Ozubulu church massacre trial, Nkwado Onyeka yesterday told the Nnewi High Court 3 that the suspected perpetrators of the attack, demanded the sum of $1 million from Ozubulu people in South Africa to forestall killings in the community.
Onyeka, former President of Ozubulu Development Union (ODU), South Africa branch, revealed to the court, now sitting in Awka due to complaints of threat to witnesses made by the prosecuting counsel, Jay Jay Ezeuko (SAN), that two persons, Gozila and Afam serving prison terms in South Africa and who claimed responsibility for the killings, had demanded the money as part of their conditions.
The witness who also claimed that the same gang he alleged to be under the control of one of the suspects, Chinedu Akpunonu killed his wife, Mrs. Onyeka as well as other six prominent people from Ozubulu in South Africa, said the gang alleged that they would continue the killing until they were released by the Ozubulu people who they claimed were responsible for their imprisonment.
According to Onyeka, who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Ezeuko (SAN), “Within a short time, one man Obinna Obijeme who gave witness against Akpunonu at Igwe’s palace was shot dead in South Africa. When we heard this we called meeting and invited Chinedu Akpunonu, Aloysius Ikegwuonu and 20 others.
“In the meeting, I was pleading with Chinedu Akpunonu because his gang members in prison, Dozila and Afam have claimed that they killed Obinna. We concluded that Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu, Emeka Obi, Chinedu Akpunonu, Fidelis Nwanya and our patron will go to prison to see Afam and Dozila to know how to stop the killing. The next day, Fidelis Nwanya called me and said that Afam and Dozila said they do not want to see Chinedu Akpunonu and Aloysius Ikegwuonu, that it was only Fidelis Nwanya and I that they would want to see.
“Fidelis Nwanya made me to understand that Afam and Dozila said they do would have visiting in November but only in December and already I had booked to travel to America to see our president who was present at my inauguration and later had an accident on December 1, 2015. So in December I travelled to New York, my wife and son dropped me at the airport. On landing at America, at the airport I switched on my phone and the first call that I got was that my wife has been short dead in our office which share with her. I joined the same flight back to South Africa.
“All Ozubulu people were calling me to sympathize with me but Chinedu Akpunonu did not. Our people were worried and were asking what to do next and I said they should go ahead with our earlier plan to visit Afam and Dozila in prison but that I will not go with them. They went to the prison to see them and reported that Dozila and Afam swore that they would continue to kill Ozubulu people except they were given $1 million. That it was Ozubulu people that put them in prison.
“The reason they are saying that Ozubulu people imprisoned them was because the then leader of Ozubulu, Oruche called Chinedu Akpunonu and asked him to stop using the killer gang. Secondly, they said Ozubulu people should come and get them released from the prison and thirdly, that Ozubulu people should kill the head of killer gang, Chinedu Akpunonu uses, Tijani Usman.
“After the burial of my wife another Ozubulu prominent son, Nnoso Ikedinobi was murdered, another person Udoamaka was murdered and by May 2016 Ozubulu people lost six persons in South Africa and Afam and Dozila claimed responsibility. All of them were respectively brought home and buried and funeral held for them but Chinedu Akpunonu did not attend any of the funerals though I saw him in Ozubulu in different functions.
“After he killed my wife he called two persons, Onyedinanma and Emeka Obi and told them that he had dealt with.”
Confessing further, the witness said, “On 6th Agust, 2017 I received a telephone call from Aloysius Ikegwuonu that gunmen went to the church he built in Ozubulu and killed worshippers. While we were trying to figure out what happened, chairman, Onyedinanma called me on phone and said that Dozila and Afam said they sent those that did the attack.
“After the incident, Ozubulu people invited us, everybody for three times and I came the three times but Chinedu Akpunonu came only once the third one.”
During cross examination by counsel to Akpunonu, Mr. Festus Keyamo, the witness said he was not aware if any court both in Nigeria and South Africa had convicted Akpunonu for murder, just as he said he had never written any petition to security agencies on the alleged murder cases he accused Akpunonu of.
The case was adjourne to May 4, 11 and 25, 2018 by the defense counsel, the presiding Judge, Justice F.I. Aniukwu, for continuation of hearing after cross examination.
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