Anxiety, fear and suspense filled the atmosphere within the Nnewi High Court premises as four suspects who were arrested over the shooting at St Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, which witnessed the killing of 13 persons were paraded in court.
The suspects who were arraigned on a 24-count charge in Suit No: HN/36C/2017 bordering on conspiracy and murder were identified as Great Chinedu Akpunonu, Vincent Ike, Chukwudi Ugwu, and Onyebuchi Mbanefo, and star witness, Mr. Chukwujekwu Eze.
The star witness Eze narrated how he was invited by one of the suspects to join in the attack against Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu, popularly called Bishop over an alleged unpaid debt.
While narrating his involvement in the attack in the court case presided over by Justice F.I. Aniukwu, Eze said he had remained unemployed ever since he was deported from South Africa where he had lived for 11-years.
Mr Eze who was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Mr. Jay Jay Ezeuko, SAN, 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 was owing 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 would agree to follow in the hit job at Bishop’s place. I told him I would not be involved because I won’t want to shed any blood.
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“Okpanda invited me so he could explain the whole thing to me and when I went 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 4th accused and two of them tried to convince me to join in the job. I refused to join.
“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 I didn’t have any other person 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 massacre in the church in which the Bishop’s father was among those killed.”
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