By Our correspondent
A Catholic priest in Anambra State, Father Ejike Nwankwo, has allegedly defrauded one Mrs Nnenna Ezenwa of about N27m.
As a consequence, he has been dragged to a Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State for charges bordering on
fraudulent activities, violence, assault, malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
The court had granted three days accelerated hearing in the case between the Inspector General of Police and the Reverend Father.
Mrs Nnenna Ezenwa had reported to the Police that Rev. Father Ejike Nwankwo, had fraudulently deceived her into investing N26,986,000 in his company comprising a moribund Filling station.
She also alleged that she gave the priest cash of N4,250,000, for other things required to refurbish the company, stating that when the company was refurbished for business to start, Rev. Fr. Nwankwo, tried to edged her out, using hoodlums to attack her, thereby, inflicting injuries on her, and threatened to kill her.
In charge 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.
It was gathered that the court had some time in June 2023, on the request of the priest, when the case came up, granted for out of court settlement as agreed by him before the court to settle the matter by offering to pay Mrs. Ezenwa the sum of N15m.
However,the Prosecutor of the case, P.A Ogele told the court that the complainant would not accept the amount because of extra expenses she had made in the course of prosecuting the case.
But the Judge urged the defendant to add more to the sum to be paid to the complainant in order to end the matter.
The Judge also urged the prosecutor to liaise with the complainant to accept any additional amount of money from the Priest for the out of court settlement, otherwise she had to come back to the country to prosecute her case.
Sequel, in a meeting in the office of one of complainants’ lawyers in Onitsha, the defendant allegedly agreed to pay the complainant the sum of N17m; a Four Runner Jeep, a bus and other things in the company that belongs to Mrs Ezenwa.
The parties reported back to court in July the extent they had gone in settling out of court and the court urged the defendant to ensure that he would keep to his promised in the court that he would pay the agreed N17m; relinquish the Four Runner Jeep, the bus and other things that belonged to the complainant.
They were given between July 19, 2023 and October 6th 2023 to settle.
However. when they returned to court in September the Prosecutor told the court that the complainant allegedly failed to pay as he agreed before the court.
The parties made a fresh agreement to settle out of court and and the judge told them that if they were unable to settle this time he would give three days accelerated hearing to the case.
When the case was called for hearing, and after the appearance of the counsel for the parties, the prosecution counsel P.A. Ogele reported that parties were unable to settled out of court as directed by the Court and that they were ready to go on with the trial.
However, when the parties returned to court on Thursday October 12, 2023, for trial to begin, Rev. Father Nwankwo, failed to appear in court but instead presented a letter through his lawyer dated 12th October 2023, citing that his doctor had asked him to have a bed rest.
The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba enquired when he Rev. Fr. Nwankwo became sick and when the letter was written, since it had the same date 12th October 2023 it was submitted to the Court.
However, the counsel for 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.”
The court frowned at Rev. Fr Nwankwo’s continued absence in the court and cautioned him for the unacceptable behaviour.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Ogele, made an oral application to the court to allow the complaint, Mrs. Ezenwa, to testify before the court through Zoom meeting, since, she was not in the country, saying that Zoom trial woukd help the court for speedy trial of the case.
Counsel for the defendant C.K Idenye, however opposed the request for trial through Zoom, but the court overruled him, noting that it had tried many cases through Zoom.
Granting an accelerated hearing on the matter, Justice Dimgba fixed dates for the case on 24th, 25th and 26th of October 2023, and urged all parties to be prepared for the trial.