RESPITE came the way of the immediate past Secretary- General of the Christ Apostolic Church, CAC, Pastor Gideon Okegwemeh, and an official of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, when a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan upheld the ‘no case submission’ application of their counsel and discharged and acquitted them of the forgery allegation levelled against them.
While delivering the judgement yesterday, Justice Ayo Emmanuel stated that the prosecution had told the court that he intends to call five witnesses but succeeded in calling two.
He also told the court that the third witness had disappointed him by not coming to the court and promised to return the case file to the ministry.
Justice Emmanuel declared that after many adjournments, the prosecution decided not to appear in court, the defendants counsel, Barrister Folorunso Lana, applied to make a no case submission on behalf of his clients.
Apart from the fact that the prosecution decided not to call other witnesses as he promised, the evidence given by the first prosecution witness, Pastor Moses Ayantoye, and second prosecution witness failed to establish prima facie case against the two defendants and by so doing the court has no option than to throw out the forgery allegation, and discharge and acquit them.
It would be recalled that the federal government instituted the case against the defendants in 2000 based on a petition writing by one Pastor Moses Ayantoye to the police alleging that Leaders of the CAC namely: Pastor J. Ade Olutimehin, Pastor D. O. Babajide, Pastor J. D. Obafemi, Pastor E. H. L. Olusheye, Pastor Ayo Olabisi, Pastor Gideon Okegwemeh and a Corporate Affairs Commission’s official, Mr Ahmed, forged the documents which they tendered at the CAC to obtain the Certificate of Incorporation of the church in 1995. The matter was filed at the Magistrate Court in Ibadan and was eventually struck out. Later in 2002, at the instance of the same petitioner, Ayantoye, the case was taken to the state High Court in Ibadan.
It was again struck out in 2005.
But not relenting, the petitioner got the case re-listed at the Federal High Court in 2007. At this stage, the names of some of the accused persons were removed.
Those remaining in the list were: Pastor E. H. L. Olusheye, Pastor Ayo Olabisi, Pastor Gideon Okegwemeh and Ahmed. The trial had been concluded twice. The first time was before Mr. Justice Shakaro of the Federal High Court, Ibadan. The prosecution had closed its case. But Justice Shakaro was transferred before defence was opened.
The trial had to start afresh before Justice Obaseki Adejumo. Again, the prosecution had concluded its case and the CAC leaders’ counsel filed a no-case submission. Obaseki over-ruled the submission but struck out two of the charges bordering on forgery. She asked the CAC leaders to face trial on seven charges. The ruling was appealed against by the church leaders. The judge was again transferred and Emmanuel took over the case.
The prosecution again amended their charges and trial commenced. This time, the prosecution removed
the name of Pastor Olusheye and late Pastor Ayo Olabisi. The prosecution called two witnesses and concluded their case. The CAC Leaders’ Counsel, Mr. Michael Lana, however, opposed the tendering of the documents which the prosecution relied upon as they were hear-say documentary evidence.
Since the prosecutor had concluded their case, the defendants’ counsel filed a no- case submission which was upheld by the court. Justice Emmanuel upheld the no-case submission of the CAC leaders’ counsel, saying the prosecution did not lead evidence to prove that the accused persons had committed any offence.
He therefore dismissed the charge and acquitted the accused persons. Meanwhile, President of the Christ Apostolic Church, Pastor Abraham Olukunle Akinosun, has once again appealed to all ministers and members of the church in the opposing camp to seize the opportunity offered by the ruling of the court to return to the fold. He said the ruling has confirmed the genuineness of the certificate of incorporation of the church obtained in 1995
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