A Magistrates’ Court in Zuba, Abuja, has adjourned a case against a pastor accused of bearing an AK-47 rifle during a church service. The case was brought by the Nigeria Police and the court fixed May 2 for the continuation of the hearing due to the absence of the defence counsel, Mr Uche Uzukwu.
The pastor, Uche Aigbe, and two others, Promise Ukachukwu and Olakunle Ogunleye, were charged with criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of prohibited firearms, inciting disturbance and criminal intimidation. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
During the resumed trial, Magistrate Abdulaziz Ismail brought to the attention of the court a letter written by Uzukwu seeking an adjournment. Ismail explained that the adjournment was at the instance of the defence counsel who was absent due to a matter he had at the election tribunal.
The police alleged that the defendants, who are all members of House on the Rock, the Refuge Church, Wuye, Abuja, conspired amongst themselves to obtain an illegal AK-47 rifle on February 12. The prosecuting counsel, Mr James Idachaba, claimed that the defendants got the firearm from Insp. Musa Audu, attached to Wuye Division, who was posted on guard duty at the said church.
Idachaba added that the defendants used the firearm for an illustration while preaching a sermon about faith in the church. The prosecutor also claimed that the defendants made inciting and intimidating statements to the congregation that could cause alarm and breach of peace.
The offence is punishable under Section III of the Firearms Act CAP F28, LFN 2004 and contravened Section 97, 114 and 397 of the Penal Code.
In the interest of justice, the magistrate adjourned the matter to May 2 for hearing. The defendants maintain their plea of not guilty to the charges brought against them