By David-Chyddy ElekeÂ in Awka
A witness in the trial of the suspects of the August 6, 2017 Ozubulu church massacre has said that he was contacted by the perpetuators of the massacre to be a part of it but he turned it down.
Four suspects, Great Chinedu Akpunonu (44), Vincent Ike (57), Chukwudi Ugwu (30) and Onyebuchi Mbanefo (46), were arraigned Friday on 24 count charge of murder and attempted murder in Charge No: HN/ 36 C/2017, while three others were said to be at large.
The trial commenced on Friday at Nnewi High Court 3. One of the witnesses, Chukwujekwu Eze who hails from Ugwuoka in Nkanu East, Enugu State and who was the second prosecution witness told the court presided over by Justice F.I. Aniukwu, that he met the fourth defendant, a.k.a. Bobby at Okpankaâ€™s place.
Okpanka was said to be a suspect in the massacre who was arrested and granted bail but later absconded.
Â Eze who was led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Jay JayÂ Ezeuko (SAN) said, â€œI know two of the defendants Bobby and Obrocho. August 6, 2017 was the day there was massacre in Ozubulu church.
“There is one guy called Okpanka who called me and told me that there is a job they want me to do in Ozubulu at Bishops place. I asked him the nature of the job, he told me that they were going to Bishopâ€™s place because he was owing some people some money in South Africa about one million dollars or thereabout. That we should go there shoot, scatter and kill anything on sight.
â€œI asked him who owns the job and he told me it was Obrocho. I then asked him how it will be because I want to go back to South Africa as I was deported from South Africa because of my papers. When I mentioned it, Okpanka said he would assist me. I told him that I will not because I have problem of money to go back.Â
Okpanka invited me to come the next day for him to explain to me better. â€œWhen I got there the next day, I met Bobby (4th defendant) and two of them explained to me that if I can do the job, their boss Obrocho will take me back to South Africa and give me job. I told them that I will not do such job.
â€œAfter the massacre on August 6, I saw Okpanka again and said to him, you have done the job and you have enough money now, can you assist me with any little money and he said no that he gave me job and I refused the job.”
and there is nothing he can do for me.
â€œI told him I was going to Bishop since I didnâ€™t have any other person to help me. He told me not to go to Bishop because the Bishop will arrest me and deal with me. I then decided to approach Bishop because of the massacre in the church and for him to take any decisionâ€, he narrated.
Asked by the Prosecution counsel if he knew one Bruno, he said yes, that he knew him from South Africa and that Bruno worked with Obrocho and Okpanka.
When asked during cross examination by the counsel to the first defendant, Festus Keyamo (SAN), if in his desire to go to South Africa he has made the arrangement, he said no, adding â€œI have not made any arrangement.â€
When Keyamo said, â€œI want to put it to you that Bishop has concluded arrangement to send you to South Africa,â€ he said, â€œBishop has not made any arrangement for me. I donâ€™t even have an international passport.â€
On Keyamoâ€™s question that â€œIn all your statement, you confirmed that there was no time you stood face to face with Obrocho, the witness said, â€œI did not see him face to face. There were about three police officers that recorded my statement. They asked me to sign and I did because it was getting late, they did not read the one I signed and itâ€™s with the police.â€
Also, the former President General of Ozubulu, Dr. Ernest Chukwuka who was the first witness said the community tried to settle the matter but the manner with which they behaved made police to invite them to Awka.
The defense counsel moved their applications for bail which was objected by the prosecution counsel and the Judge adjourned to February 23 and March 3 for ruling on bail application and continuation of trial.