At the resumed sitting at the Awka High Court on 18th January 2019 presided by Justice Fidelis Aniukwu Chinedu Akpunonu, first defendant said contrary to the accusation against him that he provided legal fees for Gozilla and Afam, two prisoners in South Africa; that he only contributed money alongside others to hire a lawyer for the duo.
Speaking under cross examination by Jay Jay Ezeuko, SAN, prosecution counsel; Akpunonu told the court that the said money was sent through Emeka Obi, his cousin and one of the prosecution witnesses in the case.
“I merely contributed money and gave him my own to enable him locate the person that would hire a lawyer for them. I am not privy to what the two prisoners do and Afam is not my friend.
“My conversation with Gozilla on phone was not frequent, rather it was once in a while”, he told the court.
He said it was during the meeting of the Ozubulu Development Union, South Africa branch, that he heard that Gozilla and Afam cliamed responsibility for the killings and were also planning to kill more people, including Aloysius Ikegwuonu, a.k.a. Bishop.
“I heard it as rumour because there was no direct call to me from the prisoners. I was not even at the Igwe Ozubulu’s palace where
Quintus Onyebinanma put a call to them. For over two years I have not visited home. I was arrested when I reported for a meeting organized for ODU members based in South Africa”.
Akpunonu admitted that he knew Onyebuchi Mbanefo, the fourth
defendant for seven years. “And that was when the later was in South
Africa before he relocated to Anambra State following gunshot wounds he sustained in the hands of assassins”.
In answer to a question put to him by Ezeuko concerning his relationship with Emeka Osisi, a.k.a. Okpanka; Akpunonu said he knew
Okpanka through one Gilbert Okoye. “Okpanka only called me to reveal the identity of the man that shot me and my children in South Africa.
“A week after the August 6, 2017 shooting at St. Philips Catholic
Church, he called back to say he was in the hospital and that he needed financial help. I told him I had no money and dropped that call.
He called again on August 26. 2017 to tell me about the shooting in the church which I had already heard,” he said.
In his defence, Onyebuchi Mbanefo, the fourth defendant, said he was in his home at Atani in Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state on the day of the incident.
He told the court that he later attended the 8 o’clock church service at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in his area.
He said he did not visit Ozubulu on the day and, therefore, could not have been an accomplice to the crime.
His mother, Mrs. Paulina Mbanefo, and one Francis, a mass server at St. Joseph also testified in his favour. Francis said he saw Onyebuchi in the church on the fateful day and urged the court to exonerate him from the heinous crime.
The case was adjourned to February 1, 2019 for further hearing.