Prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of four defendants accused of involvement in the Ozubulu Church massacre, Christian Oruche, has told the Anambra State High Court sitting in Awka that a man he knew 15 years ago took part in the killing.
Four defendants : Great Chinedu Akpunonu, Chukwudi Ugwu, Vincent Ike and Onyebuchi Mbanefo are standing trial before an Anambra State High Court Awka for the killing. Led in evidence by prosecution counsel, Jay Jay Ezeuko (SAN), Oruche a South African based trader and former President of Ozubulu development union, South African branch, identified Chinedu Akpunonu as one of the attackers.
In his testimony, Oruche claimed that prior to the August 6, 2017 attack at the church; three people were reported to have surveyed the house of Aloysius Ikegwuonu on three occasions.
According to him, the security man attached to Ikegwuonu’s house described the men and the description of one of them was that of Onyebuchi Mbanefo, alias Dog, the fourth defendant.
Oruche who testified through an interpreter said Mbanefo also attended Ikegwuonu’s birthday ceremony in May, 2017 where he had a good treat and gift of N50, 000.
“When I was going, I thought he had gone home only to discover him in a red Corolla car around 10pm with two strange men”. He told the court that from what he observed; Mbanefo could be among those that killed worshipers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church on that fateful date, “having known him for over 15 years”.
Oruche also stated that Akpunonu, the first defendant, allegedly gave one Oba Obi the sum of 10,000 South African Rand, to eliminate the wife
of Ikegwuonu, aka Bishop because “Aloysius Ikegwuonu is challenging him”. Oruche claimed that Akpunonu, Gozilla and Afam were friends.
The duo had claimed responsibility for the serial killings in South Africa and Nigeria he added stating that he reported the case to Consulate general of Nigeria to South Africa.
Nevertheless, the picture of the said letter was rejected as exhibit by the defense counsels and the judge, Justice Fidelis Aniukwu.
However, under cross examination by counsel to the first defendant Festus Keyamo (SAN), and counsel to the second defendant A.A. Igwebuike, counsel to the third and fourth defendant Okey Obikeze it was discovered that in his statement to the police on November 6, 2017, Oruche never mentioned Akpunonu or Mbanefo as suspects in the murder case.
Instead, he specifically mentioned three personsGozilla, Afam and one Ekene Mbaegbu as suspects in the August 6, 207 church massacre.
“Yes, did not say anything about Chinedu Akpunonu in my statement to the police. All that I said about Chinedu are contained in the audio and video records with the police”.
Oruche also said he did not know the name of the security man that told him about the allege assessment of bishop’s house prior to the attack. He also acknowledged that Akpunonu had never been arraigned or convicted for any crime either in Nigeria or South Africa