Human Interest

FRAUD: I’m not comfortable seeing you standing trial , Judge tells Catholic priest


By Our correspondent

THE three years legal battle between Mrs. Nnenna Ezenwa and Reverend Father Ejike Nwankwo, may have come to an end with the two parties agreeing for an out of court settlement of their matter.

A Federal High Court Judge in Awka the Anambra State capital, Hon. Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, brokered the peaceful settlement of the matter between the warring parties in the case.

Mrs Ezenwa, had accused the priest of allegedly defrauding her of about N27 million Naira, and as a consequence the priest was dragged to the Federal High Court 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 Priest but the parties failed to settle out of Court because the Priest who initiated and demanded for the out of court settlement according to the Police prosecutor failed to meet p the conditions for out of court settlement.

However, when the parties returned to the Court for trial to resume, Justice Dimgba expressed dissatisfaction for the inability of the Priest to settle the matter with Mrs Ezenwa, out of court as he had severally pleaded with the Court, on several adjournment of the matter.

Justice Dimgba, specifically told the Court that he does not feel comfortable seeing a Priest standing in the dock in in his court answering questions bordering on fraud and sundry allegations, reminding the Priest of the implication of allowing the case to linger.

According to Justice Dimgba, “Reverend Father Ejike, I am a committed Catholic I don’t like seeing you standing before me answering question on matter like this, if I allow you to be standing in front of me answering question on fraud, and tomorrow I will be standing in front of you to confess my sins, does it look proper, please do whatever thing you can to settle this matter with that woman, am ready to personally talk with the woman on the resolution of the case.”

The Priest had immediately the case was called up for resumed hearing after the judges advise, and in response to Justice Dimgba’s advise, agreed to pay Mrs Ezenwa the sum of N17 million Naira out of N27 she was demanding from him as money spent in refurbishing and equipping the moribund filling station which is the subject matter to the case.

However, satisfied with the response from the Priest, Justice Dimgba, stood down the case and ordered that the parties should retire to the judges chambers for a zoom meeting with Mrs Ezenwa, who is away from Nigeria.

The Police prosecutor Mr. Patrick A Ogele, and Counsel to Mrs Ezenwa, Mrs Sabrina Nnabukwu, Rev. Fr. Nwankwo and his lawyer Mr Kingsley Idenyi, joined the judge in his chambers where the priest agreed to pay Mrs Ezenwa in two instalments, the sum of N10 million on November 24th 2023 and the balance of N7 million on January 24th 2024, and the matter, adjourned to February 1st 2024 for them to report to the court if the matter had finally been settled.

However the parties were ordered by the court to go to Umunze, the location of the property that is the subject matter of the case for inspection and collection of one 4 Runner Jeep, one bus and three engines belonging to Mrs Ezenwa. The items have since been delivered and are in the custody of Mrs Ezenwa, who has confirmed receipt of them. Other things not delivered will be disclosed to the court at the next adjourned date.

It will be recalled that Mrs Ezenwa had reported to the Police that the Priest had fraudulently deceived her into investing N26,986,000 in his moribund company, comprising a Filling Station.

She also alleged that she gave the priest cash of N4,250,000 for other things required to be refurbish in the company, stating that when the company was refurbished for business to start, the Priest tried to edge her out, using hoodlums to attack her thereby, inflicting injuries on her, and threatened to kill her.

However the Police in Charge, No. FHC/Awka/31/21 between Inspector General of Police and Reverend Father Ejike Nwankwo, the accused Priest was charged on five counts bordering on fraudulent activity, violence, assault, malicious damage and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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