St. Philip Catholic Church Amakwa Ozobulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State

One of the witnesses in the Ozubulu Church killings in Anambra state, Chukwuemeka Obi, Friday told the court in Awka, Anambra state that those who masterminded the killings have threatened to carry out more attacks in four families in the community.

Not only that, he also told the court that they equally threatened to carry out such attacks on other members of the community based in South Africa and Brazil.

The revelation came at the Nnewi High court now sitting in Awka because of threats on witnesses, which is being presided over by Justice F I Aniukwu.

It would be recalled that on August 6, 2017 unknown gun men stormed Saint Philip’s Catholic Church Amakwa Ozubulu and killed 13 persons, while 29 others were seriously injured.

Obi, who was a witness from Johannesburg, South Africa, revealed the threats by the suspects as he was being led in evidence in Chief by his lawyer, Jay Jay Ezeuko SAN.

According to him, “The killers have threatened to kill my father in Ozubulu, attack four families in Ozubulu; kill my younger brother who is living in Brazil and myself who is living in South Africa”

“They are demanding one million dollars from us or they will wipe all us. We have been receiving strange phone calls from these people”

“They accused me of being a betrayer because on one occasion, I traveled with Bishop (Aloysius Ikegwuonu) from South Africa to Nigeria; rode in his (Bishop’s) car from Lagos to Ozubulu”

The witness further alleged that one of the suspects, Chinedu Akpunonu, who was equally standing trial in the matter, was working with two persons he called Gozila and Afam

Both suspects, he said, were in jail in South African prison to terrorize the people of Ozubulu at home and abroad.

Also Emeka Nzelu, another witness based in South Africa, told the court that another suspect standing trial in the case, Onyebuchi Mbanefo, called him on phone and threatened to deal with “bishop”(Aloysius Ikegwuonwu) for abandoning him when he needed his help.

According to Nzelu , “Mbanefo told me that he would now join forces with Akpunonu to deal with bishop for failing to assist him to foot his bill for bullet wound surgery, despite the fact that it was because of bishop that he sustained the wound”

“He refused to accept all appeals I made to him to forgive bishop (ikegeuonwu)

Asked by Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who is the defence counsel, whether he reported that such threat to the police in South Africa or Nigeria, Nzelu answered in the negative.

Rather, he said he reported the matter to the chairman of Ozubulu Development Union O D U in South Africa.

However, after listening to the witnesses and their Counsels, the trial judge, Justice Aniukwu refused bail application for the four suspects standing trial in the August 6 killings.

The Judge in his ruling said the risk of releasing the suspects outweighed their freedom.

The Justice said, the suspects did not prove exceptional circumstance to warrant their bail.

The suspects had stated in their bail application that they were innocent of the charges against them

They maintained that before the law they remained innocent and entitled to bail.

They also stated that they had health conditions that the prison health facilities could not handle.

Agreeing that ill health was a ground to grant suspects bail in criminal matters, the judge said in his thinking since the prosecution was handling the matter expeditiously, it was better to keep the suspects intact to face their case than risking granting them bail where they might abandon the case or jump bail.

Counsel to the defendants, Mr. Festus Keyamo, after the session, told reporters that he had got the brief of his clients to go on interlocutory appeal on the bail.

The presiding judge, Justice Aniukwu, adjourned the matter to May 16th and 25th, June 8th and 22nd; and July 6 for continuation.

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