The Chief Magistrate of an Enugu magistrates’ court, J. O. Umezulike, has convicted four pastors in the state, including the General Overseer, Christian Charismatic Movement, Dr. Sabinus Onuigbo, for forgery and conspiracy.
While delivering judgment on Wednesday in a suit with no CME/56C/2017, the chief magistrate sentenced Onuigbo to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine, while his conspirators – Pastors Tony Chukwu, Chukwuma Victor and Nick Nwoye – were handed three years jail term each with a choice of N20,000 fine.
Enugu State Police Command had arraigned the convicts: Onuigbo, Ojukwu, Victor, Nwoye, and one Tony Ike before the magistrates’ court in 2017 for alleged forgery and conspiracy.
Onuigbo and the three pastors were said to have forged the signature of one Pastor Sunny Ndolo of the same church who resigned in 2011, in the minutes of the church’s meeting held on July 14, 2014.
Angered by the development, one Mr. Innocent Ngwu reported the case to the police. After investigation, the convicts were charged.
Delivering the judgment on Wednesday, the court held that the prosecution proved its case against the four pastors beyond a reasonable doubt. He, however, acquitted Ike.
The judgment read in part, “The sole issue for determination was the forgery of Rev. Sunny Ndolo’s signature. The defense did not debunk or contradict it all through with their argument. As Lord Denning would say, ‘you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand.’ The prosecution proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Magistrate Onuzulike held that the defense resorted to underhand tactics to undermine the judgment of the court. The Chief Magistrate said, “As the proceeding was ongoing, there was intermittent interference. But facts before the court found four of the accused guilty while the fifth accused was not a party to the allegations.
“Nevertheless I convict the 1st – 4th accused persons for the offense of forgery and conspiracy as in SS. 495(a); 443(1); 449 and 453 of CC Laws of Enugu state 2004 and sentence 1st accused to seven years in prison; 2nd to 4th accused to three years in jail or option of fine of N20,000 each excluding the 1st defendant.
“The 5th defendant is not a party per se in the entire transaction. He is an innocent passerby. Under S.386 of ACJL, he is discharged and acquitted.”
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