The police have exonerated a popular cleric in Delta State and General Overseer of the Palace of God Bible Church in Effurun, Apostle Michael Akpor, of murder allegation.
PUNCH Metro gathered that two police operatives, ASP Mesoro Victor and Inspector Ignatius Achazie, attached to the cleric as security escorts were also exonerated alongside with him.
Sources said that the trio who have been under police investigation since Tuesday, 12th July, 2022, over alleged killing of one Charles Okpako and Ejiro Ekiepovwe at Ugbolokposo community were let off the hook following contradicting evidences by those who reportedly claimed to have witnessed the murder incident.
Apostle Michael Akpor who could not hide his joy following his exoneration in the murder allegation resorted to a special thanksgiving service in his church on Monday, expressing gratitude to God for his vindication in the matter.
The cleric, however, sympathised with the families of the deceased persons.
When contacted by our correspondent, the public relations officer for Delta State Command, Bright Edafe, confirmed the report saying that Apostle Michael Akpor together with the two operatives have since been let off the hook.
Speaking with journalists on the incident, the legal counsel to the cleric, Austin Nyekigbe, Esq. hinted that it was alleged that in the evening of Tuesday 12th July, 2022, a commercial tricycle conveying three passengers at Ugbolokposo community in Effurun, Delta State hit and scratched a black Jeep and a man in police uniform came down from the black Jeep and shot severally at the tricycle killing the two passengers at the back seat.
The rider of the tricycle sustained a bullet wound on his left shoulder while the lady at the front seat survived unhurt.
The registration number of the said black Jeep was reportedly covered while a V.I.P sat at the back seat of the black Jeep and wore white native attire just as the black Jeep and the police escorts were suspected to be that of Apostle Michael Akpor.
Consequently, the cleric and his two police escorts were reportedly invited by the Ebrumede Divisional Police Headquarters for interrogation over the murder incident, from where the case was later transferred to the State Police Headquarters, Asaba where the trio were detained.
But it was learnt that following discreet investigation into the allegation of murder levied against the cleric and the two policemen, including visits to the scene of crime, the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara and the Warri Central Hospital mortuary to inspect the corpses, it was gathered that the evidences of the purported witnesses were in contradiction while the suspected killers could not be traced.
Sources said that one Festus Ebereri who claimed to be an eyewitness identified Asp. Mesoro Victor as the policeman that shot the two deceased persons “whereas the movement register of Special Protection Unit (SPU), Base 25, Asaba revealed and confirmed that the said policeman, Asp. Mesoro Victor was not with Apostle Michael Akpor and was not in Effurun and its environs at the time of the incident”.
The said policeman was reportedly nominated for election duty at Osun State and left Effurun for the election duty at Osun State before the time of the incident.
Investigations further revealed that Akpor was at the Palace of God Bible Church, off Uti Road, Effurun, to attend a church programme on the day of the incident.
He reportedly arrived the church premises at about 12:00noon and stayed till about 9:00pm before leaving the church premises whereas the murder incident occurred at about 6:00pm at Ugbolokposo community.
Apostle Michael Akpor reportedly drove a green coloured Range Rover sport car and did not cover the registration number.
The Close Circuit Television footages of the church premises also revealed and confirmed the time Apostle Michael Akpor arrived the church premises and the time he finally left the church premises on the day of the incident.
The CCTV footages also confirmed the make and colour of the car and the colour of clothes Apostle Michael Akpor wore on the day of the accident, it was gatherered.
The police reports further confirmed that the inspection of the movement register of the SPU Base 25, Asaba contradicted the claims of the key witness “as ASP Mesoro Victor left on 12/07/2022 at 1630hrs for a special duty to Osun State’s Guber election”.
Also, the two rifles issued to the two policemen were issued with 30 rounds of live ammunition each, which were all intact.
In view of the findings, the police submitted that it was crystal clear that the suspected cleric “was going on with his religious business in the Church as at the time of the incident”.
Consequently, in the light of the uncontroverted evidence and findings, it was gathered, the police Investigation report confirmed that “the cleric and the two policemen attached to him, who were accused of killing two persons at Ugbolokposo community, were exonerated, vindicated, and released on bail.”
JUST IN: Appeal Court Upholds Conviction Of Maina’s Son
The Appellate Court in Abuja has upheld the conviction of Faisal, the son of Abdulrasheed Maina, for conspiracy and money laundering.
Maina, the former chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team, is serving an eight-year jail term at Kuje Prison in Abuja for pension fraud to the tune of N2 billion and his son has been named an accomplice.
Meanwhile, in a judgment on Thursday, November 24, 2022, a three-member panel of the appeal court reduced the term of imprisonment from 14 years to seven years on the grounds that he (Faisal) is a first-time offender.
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In the judgement by Justice Ugochukwu Anthony Ogakwu, the court held that Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja was right to have convicted Faisal.
“But as a first-time offender, the trial court ought not to have handed the convict the maximum punishment under the law,” Ogakwu added.
Two To Die By Hanging Over Armed Robbery In Ekiti
An Ekiti State High Court sitting in Ado Ekiti has sentenced Owolabi Deji (30) and Opeyemi Oluwakomolafe (22) to death by hanging for conspiracy, armed robbery, rape, and escape from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison.
The convicts were arraigned before Justice Monisola Abodunde on 13th January 2017 for committing offences bordering on conspiracy, armed robbery, rape, and escape from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison on 1st December 2014.
The charge stated that “the defendants, on the 14th day of July 2015 at Oketa Area of Iluomoba Ekiti in Gbonyin LGA of Ekiti State, did conspire to commit armed robbery on Lucas Agboola and Oladele Oseyemi as well as Adeyemi Comfort on the same day at Araromi Street, Aisegba Ekiti, while armed with cutlass and gun.”
On the same date, time and place, the defendants also raped a 35-year-old woman, according to the charge, the defendants escaped from lawful custody at Ado Ekiti Prison on the 1st day of December 2014.
In his statement to the police, one of the victims said, “I was sleeping in my room around 3:00 a.m., suddenly, two armed men emerged in my bedroom, they cautioned me to cooperate if I don’t want to lose my life, they robbed me of a sum of N40,000, N2,000 belonging to my wife, they collected our phones and also raped my wife. I later got to know that they gained access to my room through the ceiling. We reported the matter at the police station and were later arrested,” he concluded.
To prove his case, the prosecutor, Barrister Ilesanmi Adelusi, called five witnesses and tendered a Dane gun, 10 handsets, one rechargeable torchlight, four handset batteries, N21,060 cash, recharge cards, a machete and statements of the defendants as exhibits.
The offences contravene sections 6(b) and 1(2)(a) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap RII, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, also, Sections 357 punishable under Section 358 and Section 135 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Ekiti State, 2012.
The defendants, after rejecting five different lawyers, spoke in their defence and called two witnesses.
In his judgment, Justice Monisola Abodunde said, ‘’in my view, the defendants are compulsive pathological liars who have become hardened criminals; rather than mend their ways in prison, they escaped prison during a jailbreak and continued to unleash terror in the community until nemesis caught with them.
“They are a threat to a peaceful existence in our society and they must be made to face the reality of the consequences of their wicked behaviour.
“In conclusion, I find the two defendants guilty as charged in counts 1,2,3,5 and 6 and convicted accordingly.
“In counts 1, 2 and 3 (Armed Robbery), they are sentenced to death by hanging, having been the principal offence and may the Lord have mercy on your souls.
“They are discharged and acquitted in count 4, in count 5 (Rape) they are each sentenced to life imprisonment and in count 6 (Escape from lawful custody), they are each sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
“Sentences are to run concurrently.”
Ataga: Chidinma Makes Fresh Confession
Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged killer of the Chief Executive Officer, Super TV, Usifo Ataga, on Thursday, told a Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, that she was slapped and forced to sign statements written by policemen in the state.
Chidinma, who testified in her trial-within-trial as defence witness one, told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that policemen including Assistant Superintendent of Police, Olusegun Bamidele, and Olufunke Madeyinlo, told her to sign statements against her will.
She said Bamidele told her to narrate the statement he wrote to the state Commissioner of Police after tearing the statement she wrote.
Chidinma is standing trial over the alleged murder of Ataga. She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.
Addressing the court on Thursday, Chidinma, while being led in evidence in the trial-within-trial by her counsel, Onwunka Egwu, told the court that on June 23, 2021, she was in her room at home when her 10-year-old sister informed her that some men were asking after her.
The witness said, “Immediately, my sister called my Dad (her foster father, Onoh Ojukwu), who came out and asked who the men were? They said they were policemen from (SCID), Panti, and that they came to arrest me and to search the house or that I should go in and bring the (Ataga’s) phone.
“I said I don’t know where the phone and car is and one of the policemen slapped me. My dad said you cannot slap my daughter in my house and the policemen tried to enter the room from the passage.”
Chidnma said when the policemen were taking her away, she told her foster dad to call the family lawyer, Egwu, adding that when they got to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, she was taken to the office of a policeman, Razak Oseni, who, alongside other policemen, questioned her.
She said, “We went back to my house and then returned to the DCP’s office and he started questioning me. I told him I don’t know anything about the death of Mr Ataga, and that was when they made the video that was played in court.
“The DCP said I should make my statement then the IPO, Bamidele, took me to the interrogating room with Mr Chris, and gave me a blank statement form and asked me to write what happened.
“I started writing, then he (Bamidele) took my left hand and handcuffed it to the chair. I wrote what I said at the DCP’s office. While writing the statement, Bamidele read through it and said it was not what happened.”
Chidinma said she told Bamidele that she was writing what happened, adding that before she started writing the statement, she informed him to help her confirm if her foster father had called the family lawyer.
She said, “He (Bamidele) said my (foster) dad cannot make a call as he was in custody. That was when I started writing the statement. When he said the statement I wrote was not what happened, and I told him it was what happened, I received two slaps from Mr Jemiyo.
“Jemiyo and Chris sat at the back and Bamidele was facing me. He said you are going to write the truth, tore the statement I wrote, and presented another blank statement form. I told him I was writing the truth and you tore it.
“He said if I did not comply, my family, my dad, 10-year-old sister and relative will be charged in the murder case. He (Bamidele) brought out his phone, played the video obtained from the scene of the apartment and showed me pictures of Mr Ataga’s body.
“He said now you are going to write and then I started writing. He said why I am slow and I received another slap on my back. I told him that I was not feeling well and needed to rest. He (Bamidele) said there was no time, he then collected the statement form from me and he started writing. Chris then handcuffed my hands to the chair.”
Chidinma said Bamidele initially asked her questions but later stopped, adding that after he was done writing, he read the statement to her and she said what he wrote was not what happened.
She said, “He said this is what you are going to say or else my family will be charged. He read the statement to me again and told me that I should rehearse it. He said that is what I should tell the CP.
“Bamidele and Chris returned in the morning and said I should sign the statement but as I was reluctant in signing it, Chris said I should because nobody is coming for me and that they will provide me with a good government lawyer.
“After signing the statement, I was brought out of the interrogation room, given water to wash my face, and then we entered a vehicle and drove to Ikeja. When we arrived at Bamidele took me to the CP and I said what Bamidele wrote.”
She said after her interrogation at the CP’s office, she was taken down stairs where she saw a lot of people (journalists) with cameras, adding that she was not feeling well as at then.
Chidinma said, “After I was taken to the press, then we drove back to Panti where Bamidele said we are going to do a video recording, and he said I should say everything he had written in the statement and they recorded the video which was played here in court.
“I was returned to the cell; in the evening on the same June 24, Oseni brought me out of the cell, took me to an office, where Madeyinlo and another female officer Bola were. When Oseni left, I was given a blank statement form and I was told to write another statement.
“Jemiyo also walked in and I said I had already written a statement. I said I am tired and have not eaten. I was just sitting when Jemiyo came beside me and hit my head on a wooden table. This was when officer Bola had left.
“Madeyinlo said I should start writing. I picked the pen, wrote the date, my name, then she (Madeyinlo) started dictating to me and said that I should write what she said. I started writing and at the end of writing the statement, she asked me to sign.”
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