A witness in the ongoing trial of the suspected killers of Worshipers at a Catholic Church in Ozubulu Community in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Obi has told the court that the masterminds of the massacre have vowed to visit indigenes of the community living in Brazil and south Africa with the same fate.
Gunmen had in August 6th, 2017 invaded St Philip Catholic Church, shooting at worshippers, killing 13, and leaving several others wounded.
The attack was said to have been prompted by a drug war between indigenes of the community living in South Africa.
Obi who flew in from South Africa to testify before the Anambra State High Court, sitting in Awka, said the suspected masterminds, who are said to be still serving prison terms in South Africa have issued death threats to indigenes of the community living in Brazil and South Africa.
Obi who was led in evidence by his lawyer, Jay Jay Ezeuko, told the court presided over by Justice F.I Aniukwu that, “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 of us. We have been receiving strange phone calls from these people.
“They accused me of being a betrayer because on one occasion, I travelled with Bishop(Aloysius Ikegwuonu, said to be the key target of the attack) from South Africa to Nigeria; rode in his(Bishop’s) car from Lagos to Ozubulu.
He alleged that one of the suspects, Chinedu Akpunonu, standing trial in the case in Awka was working with two persons he called Gozila and Afam, who are in jail in South African prison to terrorize the people of Ozubulu at home and abroad.
Another witness from South Africa, Emeka Nzelu told the court that another suspect standing trial in the case, Onyebuchi Mbanefo called him on phone and threatened to deal with “Bishop” for abandoning him at a point in need.
Nzelu said, “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.”
Asked during cross examination by the defence council, Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN, whether he reported such threat to the police in South Africa or Nigeria, Nzelu answered in the negative, saying that he rather reported the matter to the chairman of Ozubulu Development Union in South Africa.
Justice Aniukwu however refused to grant bail application for the four suspects standing trial in the August 6 killings at St Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu.
The Judge in his ruling said the risk of releasing the suspects outweighed their freedom.
He added that the suspects did not prove exceptional circumstance to warrant their bail.
He rather asked the prison’s authorities to ensure that the suspects were given proper treatment.
The matter was adjourned to May 16th and 25th; June 8th and 22nd; and July 6 for continuation of hearing.