Posted by By ADESINA AIYEKOTI, CHRIS ANUCHA, BIYI ADEGOROYE, OLA AGBAJE and LUKMON OLABIYI on
The chicken appears coming home to roost for embattled founder and leader of Christian Praying Assembly (CPA) Rev Emeka Ezeugo King.....
The chicken appears coming home to roost for embattled founder and leader of Christian Praying Assembly (CPA) Rev Emeka Ezeugo King, as one of the church members he allegedly set ablaze gave up the ghost Tuesday night.
Following this development, Rev. King, who was granted bail on Wednesday by a Lagos Magistrateís Court, along two other accused, was promptly re-arrested. Police authorities say the pastor and his accomplices would now be charged with murder.
Daily Sun gathered that Ann Uzoh, who suffered first degree burns, having been allegedly doused with petrol and set ablaze by Rev King, died on Tuesday night at the Faith City Hospital, Ajao Estate, Lagos, where she was receiving treatment.
Confirming Annís death, her brother, Ifeanyi, said that the fire victim could no longer hang onto life. He lamented his sisterís death, expressing worry that the development would break their fatherís heart.
"It is indeed devastating and shocking to all of us. I still canít believe it happened. I just donít know how to break the news. The worst has happened. The problem now is how to tell our father. It will break his heart," he said.
Ifeanyi said that Rev King should not be allowed to go free over his sisterís death, adding: "Annís death must be avenged. The whole thing is now very clear. I understand the court earlier granted him (Rev King) bail. Let us see how he will now escape."
When Daily Sun saw the other people set ablaze alongside Ann (Vivien, Uche, Chiejina, Jessica and Kosisochukwu), they were in shock over Annís death. They lamented the development, weeping uncontrollably.
Speaking on Annís death, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Olabode Ojajuni, said that Rev King had to be re-arrested, after a magistrateís court granted him bail, so that he would be charged with murder since his victim died.
"The new development makes it necessary to re-arrest them and ensure they are charged before a High Court which has the powers to entertain murder cases and others which carry capital punishment," Ojajuni said.
Counsel to King, Ebele Obi, said, however, that he was confused about the re-arrest of his client. "What the police told me was that they were taking him for protective custody and not a re-arrest. The whole thing is strange to me. I will have to go to SCID, Panti to get details from them."
King, who was dressed in a blue shirt and jacket maintained a dead pan expression in the dock as the registrar reeled out the four-count charges preferred against him and the other two accused persons. The trio of King, Chiazor and Queen were also accused of deliberately pouring a full jerry can of petrol on Ann Uzoh on July 22, 2006 at Ajao Estate area of Lagos.
Apart from allegedly attempting to kill Ann, the three accused persons were also accused of attempting to murder six other persons. There are, Olise Chiejina, Onuorah Chizoba, Uchechukwu Iwoba, Vivian Ezeocha, Bunmi Olisa and Jessica Nwere.
In addition, they were alleged to have unlawfully wounded Chiejina, Chizoba, Iwoba, Ezeocha, Bunmi, Jessica and Ann.
They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges while their lead counsel, Mike Okoye, made an oral application for bail. According to Okoye, the accused persons were presumed innocent until the court proves otherwise.
"There is cardinal presumption of innocence as enshrined in the constitution that the accused persons are not seen as being guilty before trial. After trial, you know whether what is alleged is true or not," he said.
Arguing further, Okoye told the court that King has proved himself as a man of God, while insisting that the nature of the alleged offence was a domestic affair that happened in the church premises.
Okoye, who led five other lawyers, submitted that the incident could be likened to any disagreement at the floor of any legislative house.
Responding to the defence submission on bail application, the prosecutor, Ochugo Ogbeh, drew the attention of the court to the nature of the alleged offence, which he described as a matter of life and death. He, however, left the decision of bail at the discretion of the court.
Counsel to the victims, Robert Igbinedion, vehemently opposed the bail application. He drew the attention of the court to the fact that investigations were still going on and that granting the accused bail would jeopardize investigations into the matter.
Having listened to the submissions of the counsel, the trial magistrate granted bail in the sum of N2 million each, with sureties in like sum. He ordered that the sureties must produce evidence of gainful employment and must be property owners in the Lagos metropolis.
The sureties, he said, must be top public officers not less than directors or executive directors of reputable companies. They must also depose to affidavit of means and address of both residence and offices.
Further trial has been fixed for August 11, 2006.
Meanwhile, Rev King has attributed his travails to the inordinate ambition of some church members who want to hijack the church from him.
He said, in a statement signed by his attorney, Ebele Obi, that the insincerity of those persecuting him was due to the fact that they had looted the churchís treasury.
"His present trials and travails are similar to that of any other messenger of God, who will pass through thorns and rough edges to spread the good news," the statement said.
The statement further alleged that Kingís problems started sometime in 2004, when a group of church members, who claimed they were stakeholders and were instrumental to the increase in the churchís fortune, wanted to hijack the church. The rebellion was reportedly led by a cousin of the pastor.
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