Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
A Catholic priest, Father Ejike Nwankwo, has been dragged to court for allegedly duping one Mrs Nnenna Ezenwa of money totalling N27m.
At the Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra State, Rev Father Nwankwo was charged with offences bordering on fraudulent activities, violence, assault, malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
Mrs Nnenna Ezenwa, had reported to the Police that he (Rev. Father Ejike) had fraudulently deceived her into investing N26,986,000 in his company, a moribund Filling station and giving him cash of N4,250,000.
She reported that when the company was refurbished to standard, Rev. Fr. Nwankwo, tried to edged her out, using hoodlums to attack her, thereby, inflicting injuries on her, and threatened to kill her.
In a charge sheet with case number FHC/Awka/31/21 between Inspector General of Police and Rev. Father Ejike Nwankwo, the accused priest was charged on five counts bordering on fraudulent activity, violence, assault, malicious damages and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
The Court had some time in June 2023 when the case came up, on the request of the defendant, granted the request for out of court settlement and the defendant had before the court agreed to settle the matter out of court by offering to pay Mrs. Ezenwa the sum of N15,000,000.00.
Prosecutor of the case P.A Ogele told the court that the complainant would not accept the amount because of extra expense she had made in the course of prosecution of the case.
However, the Judge urged the defendant to add more to the sum to end the matter and appealed to the prosecutor to liaise with the complainant to accept any additional amount of money for out of court settlement, otherwise she has to come back to the country to prosecute her case.
However in a meeting in the office of one of complainant’s lawyers in Onitsha, the defendant allegedly agreed to pay the complainant the sum of N17, 000,000.00, a Jeep car and other things in the company that belongs to her.
When the parties reported back to court in July and the court urged the defendant to ensure that he keeps to his promise in the court that he will pay the agreed N17,000,000,00, relinquish the jeep car and other things that belong to the complainant.
The court gave them from July 19, 2023 to October 6th 2023, to settle but the defendant allegedly failed to pay.
When they returned to the court in September the parties made a fresh agreement to settle out of court and and the judge told them that if they were unable to settle, he will give three days accelerated hearing to the case.
When the case was called for hearing, and after the appearance of counsels, the prosecution counsel P.A. Ogele reported that parties were unable to settle out of court as directed by the honourable Court and that they are ready to go on with the trial.
However, Rev. Father Nwankwo, who instead of appearing in the court presented a letter through his lawyer dated 12th October 2023, stating that his doctor had asked him to have a bed rest.
The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, wanted to know when he, Rev. Fr. Nwankwo, became sick and when the letter was written, since it has the same date, 12th October 2023, and it was submitted to the Court same day.
However, the counsel to Rev. Fr. Nwankwo C.K. Idenyi said “the letter was given to me this morning to be submitted to the court so I do not have much information about it.”
However, the court frowned at Rev. Fr Nwankwo’s continued absence in the court and cautioned him for the unacceptable behaviour.
The prosecution counsel, Ogele, made an oral application to court to allow the complaint Mrs. Nnenna Ezenwa, to testify before the court through Zoom meeting, since, she is not in the country, saying that Zoom trial will help the Court for the speedy trial of the case.
Counsel to the defendant C.K Idenye, however, opposed the trial through Zoom, but the court overruled him, noting that it had tried many cases through Zoom.
Granting the accelerated hearing Justice Dimgba, therefore, fixed further hearing dates for the case on 24, 25 and 26th of October 2023, and urged all parties to be prepared for the trial.