Local Owerri news, Nigeria
AMB LUKE MADE SALIENT POINTS ON ASH WEDNESDAY THE BEGINNING OF LENT
Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.
"Therefore, as a Christian not minding your tribe nor race, not minding wether you are Pentecostal or Catholic, you are called to the service of God and humanity. This is a period of fasting and praying, the period of reconciliation between you and God, between you and your neighbor, the period for Sobber Reflection and almnesty."
"This is not a period for embezzlement, stealing, coursing, killing, kidnapping and raping.
"This season is for everyone, but for me more especially for rulers, both government rulers and traditional rulers, especially those ones that pocket the rights of citizens, those that doesn't pay their workers and pensioners, this is the time to ask God for pardon and turn a new leave for I believe what the Bible said " A labourer deserves his/her wages, whereby you keep the wages of a labourer to yourself and family its a big sin, this season is for your repentance. In the Bible David used his kingship power and slept with another man's wife, David knew he sinned against God, David wore sack clothes rolled on ashes and prayed to God for forgiveness and God forgave him. It is an example to all leaders. Our leaders have sinned against God and humanity, Nigeria is in sin, this is the season we are to put on sack clothes by Fasting and praying, almnesty etc let's pray to God for forgiveness and mercy.
As you go about today, remember this Bible verse Ecclesiastes 3:20 " Remember that you are dust and into dust you shall return".
AMBROSE NWAOGWUGWU JUST KILLED HIS POLITICAL CAREER - Amb Luke
Today, Friday 5th of February 2021, the CEO of Grace Media described the formal PDP media director AMBROSE NWAOGWUGWU as a total failure to his supporters, friends and family members.
Speaking with Gracemedia he said " I am totally disappointed at Ambrose the formal PDP media director who recently decamped from PDP to join APC the party he humiliated. I see it as a betrayal to the People's democratic Party and also a total let down on H/E Emeka Ihedioha the formal Executive Governor of imo state. Not only that he deflected from PDP to APC, he still went as far to condemn the administration of the formal Executive Governor of imo state Emeka Ihedioha. Now he is supporting the present administration of Hope Uzodimma whom he already has sabotaged and destroyed his governance. For me I don't belong to APC neither am I PDP, but to be frank with you I strongly believe that Ambrose is looking for his own selfish interest, he is indirectly seeking for appointment forgetting that the public support matters. If you go to his social media platforms you will see the great decrease of followers just because he choose to masticate his vomit. Indeed he has no qualities of a good leader, knowing fully well the situation of things in imo state whereby criticism is on high rate on the present administration, he disregarded his supporters and moved to support the administration of his so called Court Governor. He now addresses him as the best governor ever in imo state, what a shame. Keep on mocking yourself."
He further Said
" Those that says the truth are always been tackled, just the way he tackled Nonsonkwa saying he bags award of false rumour. The Nonsonkwa we all know is a man of truth, his a majority speaker. So therefore there is nothing you say against him that would be seen as truth."
The CEO of Grace Media further advised the administration of Hope Uzodimma to clear all their debts in imo state and stop chasing shadows.
AIR FORCE OFFICERS ALLEGEDLY SHOOT LECTURER DEAD IN IMO ‘FOR NOT IDENTIFYING HIMSELF’
Nigerian Air Force officers attached to the 211 Regiment of the NAF Base, Neze, Imo State, have been accused of shooting dead a Computer Science lecturer of the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede in Imo State.
According to reports, Okonye Steve Nduka was killed at about 7 p.m on the 25th of January, 2021 at Naze area of Owerri.
Comrade Okonye was allegedly gunned down by the trigger happy men along with an ex-student of same Polytechnic as they were on their way back from a church programme.
The Zonal secretariat of ASUP ZONE D has condemned the killing of Comrade Okonye, calling for justice for the victims.
A statement released via the official website of ASUP Nigeria reads:
“The killing of our member is a brutal reminder of the stained reputation of security agents in the country, particularly in the area of extra judicial killings.
“The reports of a possible case of mistaken identity as the reason for the shooting represent watery and unacceptable excuses as Comrade Okonye and the other occupants of his vehicle were unarmed and never resisted arrest when the trigger happy men pointed guns at them.
“The killing of Comrade Okonye, a budding academic by these men cannot be swept under the carpet as the Polytechnic community, as well as the people of Ukwuani in Delta State have been robbed of the contributions of this young comrade to society particularly in his area of professional competence.
“The Union is therefore calling on the government to institute a full scale “no holds barred” investigation into the killing of our comrade and his friend through an investigative panel, the unveiling of these gunmen and their prosecution to serve as deterrent to others who are in the business of molesting and killing harmless unarmed citizens for fun.
“This shall also serve to save the society from the continued menace of the unprofessionalism of these men who have turned same citizens they are paid to protect, to hunting games.
“The Union is equally demanding for compensation to the families of our fallen comrade and his friend as the families have been deprived of their bread winners in such avoidable and unacceptable circumstance.
“Our Union is also calling for the relocation of the 211 REGIMENT GROUP, Air Force base currently located close to the institution as the excesses of the soldiers have been a constant source of conflict between the soldiers and the Polytechnic community. We are convinced that the current location of the base and its proximity to the Polytechnic community is an error that must be corrected to forestall future killings as the soldiers have on several occasions been reported to have overstepped their bounds by molesting citizens without provocation.
“Our Union will continue to demand for justice to be served these errant gunmen reportedly operating as officers of the Nigerian Airforce from the 211 Regiment Group, as the safety of lives and property of our members can no longer be guaranteed with such armed men operating freely within the community.”
Rev Sister murdered after catching priest and nun in sex act finally gets justice
The dead nun's slippers were scattered on the convent kitchen floor -- one near the entrance, the other by the fridge.
Her white veil was found snagged on the door. An open bottle of water was leaking onto the tiles.
In the corner of the room was an ax.
Officers discovered the crime scene, described in court documents seen by CNN, at St. Pius X Convent Hostel in southern India on March 27, 1992.
Later that day, they found Sister Abhaya's body in a nearby well at the Indian convent, in the city of Kottayam, Kerala.
A post-mortem examination revealed she had nail marks on both sides of her neck and two lacerated wounds on her head. Her body had multiple abrasions and she had sustained a fracture to her skull.
Despite her wounds and the kitchen crime scene, no one was brought to court over Sister Abhaya's murder for 27 years. Instead, what followed was years of dead-end investigations, plagued with allegations of corruption.
Finally, last December, guilty verdicts were handed down to a priest and nun who had gone to extraordinary lengths to protect their illicit relationship. The court found Sister Abhaya had walked in on them while they were engaging a sex act in the kitchen, and killed her to conceal their sins. They were sentenced to life in prison.
After nearly three decades of fighting for justice, her family have one overriding question.
"Why did it take so long?" asks Sister Abhaya's brother, Biju Thomas.
When she died, Sister Abhaya was a student at a local college run by the Knanaya Catholic Church in Kottayam, then home to about 1.8 million people.
Among India's Hindu-majority population, 2.3% follow Christianity -- a figure that hasn't changed in more than two decades. But Kerala has a sizable Christian community, around 18% of its people.
According to India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which prosecuted the case, Sister Abhaya woke up at about 4:15am on the day of her murder to study for an exam.
She went to the ground floor kitchen to fetch some water and it was there prosecutors said she found Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy performing a sex act. Father Kottoor taught psychology at the school and Sister Sephy was in charge of the convent hostel where the act took place.
Prosecutors said the pair "maintained an illicit relationship".
The night before the murder, prosecutors said the priest snuck onto the convent grounds and stayed in Sister Sephy's room, which was on the ground floor of the hostel, near the kitchen.
When they realized the young nun had seen them in a compromising position, the pair hit her on the back of the head with a small ax kept in the kitchen, then threw her body into a well on the hostel grounds.
The details of what happened that night didn't come to light until years later, after immense pressure from activists and the young nun's family. Her father, in particular, refused to give up.
The first investigation into Sister Abhaya's death was opened by the Kottayam West Police Crime Branch on the day her body was found. A year later, it concluded the cause of her death was suicide.
But Sister Abhaya's father, Matthew Thomas, refused to accept their version of events and urged the CBI, the nation's premier investigation agency, to take over the case.
They picked it up in 1993, but for 12 years did not charge anyone for her death. Instead, between 1993 and 2005, the CBI filed four reports, including three closure petitions, urging the Chief Judicial Magistrate to drop the case.
In their first report, they agreed with Kottayam police that the cause of death was "suicide by drowning." However, it was not accepted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and the case was reopened.
Their second report, published in 1996, was inconclusive -- they could not determine if it was suicide or homicide. Investigators once again urged the case to be closed. This was once again rejected.
Their third report, published in 1999, stated it was a homicide but didn't nominate any suspects. This was rejected as "unsatisfactory" by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Yet another report was filed in 2005, reiterating the case was "untraced," as they could not identify any suspects. And once again, it was rejected by the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
After this, the investigation was transferred from the CBI New Delhi branch to the CBI in the southern city of Cochin in Kerala.
Finally, in 2009, the CBI formally charged Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy with murder, as well as another priest, Father Jose Poothrikkayil, who police said was involved in the killing.
All three denied the charge, as well as allegations of conducting an improper relationship.
They filed a dismissal request to get the case dropped, and it took another nine years before a judge ordered Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy to face trial. Charges against Father Poothrikkayil were dropped due to lack of evidence.
On August 5, 2019, the trial finally began.
Prosecutors argued that Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy went to remarkable lengths to cover up their relationship and crime.
According to the CBI, Sister Sephy underwent hymenoplasty, a cosmetic fix to restore or reconstruct her hymen, the day before her arrest in 2008, to make it appear that she was still a virgin.
In court, prosecutors accused police officers from the Kottayam West Crime Branch of tampering with evidence and destroying documents crucial to the investigation.
"It is reasonable to suppose that Father Kottoor had at his control the immense resources of the diocese in terms of money and material, and could command the obedience of priests, nuns, and laymen," the prosecution said.
Prosecutors alleged lead investigators, including the Superintendent and the Deputy Superintendent of the police, were instrumental in the cover up.
The judge agreed with the prosecution's assertions that early police investigators fabricated and destroyed evidence, including the plastic bottle, Sister Abhaya's slippers, and her white veil.
He ordered the state's police head to ensure that "such misdeeds on the part of the police" do not occur in future.
Only one charge was made against an investigating officer, but that was dropped in 2008 after he died.
At least one other lead investigator from the Kottayam West Police Crime Branch, who was accused of fabricating and destroying evidence, also died before the case concluded.
Father Kottoor maintains his innocence.
"I have done no wrong. God is with me," he told local reporters as he arrived in court on December 23 for the sentencing hearing.
His lawyer said the case relied entirely on circumstantial evidence. "There is no conclusive evidence," said Father Kottoor's lawyer, B. Sivdas. "And there was a delay in the investigation, a delay in finding the accused, there were so many loopholes. The court convicted them because the case became a sensation."
Sister Abhaya -- born Beena Thomas -- was a "polite and quiet child," according to her brother, Biju Thomas. They grew up in Kottayam, and were "devout Catholics and followers of Jesus Christ."
"I remember when she was about five or six, she began taking a huge interest in God and the Bible," said Thomas, now 51 and living in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. "She would read the Bible religiously, and take comfort in its teachings. Everyone loved her. She was always laughing."
Sister Abhaya was 19 when she was "called to a religious life," according to Thomas. The family had relatives in Germany and Italy who were also nuns. Thomas said that his sister admired the respect they received, and the work that they did.
"She wanted to be respected also, and devote her life to Jesus," he said.
Thomas was 24 when he was told that his sister had died by suicide. "I was so confused because she was happy, and she was following her dream. Why would she have killed herself?" he said.
Thomas traveled back to Kottayam town, from the state of Gujarat where he was studying, to be with his family and take care of his sister's funeral arrangements. Several days later, he visited her body in the morgue and read the postmortem report that revealed his sister had head injuries and nail marks to her neck.
"These to me showed that something had happened to her before she was thrown in the well," he said.
Sister Sephy filed an eight-page written statement stating that Sister Abhaya suffered from "psychological depression." She claimed that Sister Abhaya came from an "economically weak family and was not good enough in her studies."
Some other nuns were "staunch upholders" of the suicide theory, according to the final judgment. They "endeavored to give all support to the accused," the judgment said.
"It was very hurtful to hear those things said about my sister," said Thomas. "She didn't kill herself. She was silenced."
Sister Abhaya's father -- a low-wage farmer -- fought tooth and nail for his daughter, Thomas said.
"We were poor people, we didn't have much money," said Thomas. "But my father would travel for hours a day by bus to probe the police to reopen the case and give us the truth."
"He suffered a lot," said Thomas. "He always said 'someone killed my Beena. I am sure of it'."
Activist pushed for answers
Days after news broke of Sister Abhaya's death, the suspicious nature of the case piqued the interest of a young activist, Jomon Puthenpurackal.
"When I heard details about (Sister Abhaya's) case -- the overturned fruit basket, the ax in the kitchen, her slippers in different positions -- I knew immediately that something bad had happened to her," said Puthenpurackal, who said he was inspired by Kottayam-based freedom fighter, K E Mammen, to "do good in the world."
"I knew she hadn't committed suicide, like the police and the Church said," he said.
Puthenpurackal soon formed an Action Council to get justice for the murdered nun. He took a signed petition, along with Sister Abhaya's father, to the CBI, detailing all the allegations of corruption and listing key witnesses.
Every time the CBI filed a petition to close the case, Puthenpurackal kept the pressure on, using the Indian media to keep the case in the public eye, and urging investigators to dig deeper.
There was one witness, in particular, who had testimony Puthenpurackal felt was key to convicting the case. Adacka Raju was a "thief by profession," according to court documents. He had trespassed onto the hostel campus on the night of the murder to steal copper plates from the terrace, which he planned to sell, according to court documents.
Raju had stolen copper plates from the hostel twice before. But on his third attempt -- the night of the murder -- he told the court that he saw two men approaching the staircase. He identified one of them as Father Kottoor.
During the trial, defense lawyers vehemently argued against Raju's version of events and sought to discredit him, by branding him untrustworthy and a "man of no integrity." They also alleged that he was a witness planted by the prosecution.
The prosecution, however, said Raju was taken into custody by the Crime Branch and kept in the station for 58 days. He was subjected to "inhumane torture" by officers there, who tried to extract a confession to pin the murder on him.
"He stood his ground and did not budge even an inch," according to the prosecution. "He was offered a substantial monetary reward and a job for his wife and the meeting of the educational expenses of his children and a house to live in, but he did not succumb to these blandishments."
The police even arrested an acquaintance of Raju's, and tortured him for two days, according to court documents seen by CNN. The judge stated that the acquaintance's brother was also arrested and tortured for six days. He was repeatedly told to testify that Raju had committed Sister Abhaya's murder.
"Raju faced many difficulties in coming forward," said Puthenpurackal. "(The defense) completely dehumanized him. But he was one of the only witnesses who stood his ground, despite the mounting pressure."
"I dedicated my life to this case and I wanted to see it through the end," said Puthenpurackal, who continued to pursue the case even when it endangered his safety.
Father Kottoor threatened Puthenpurackal at a protest for Sister Abhaya. According to court documents, Father Kottoor warned Puthenpurackal that he would be "handled in the proper manner," also pointing out that "no one working against the church had ever been spared."
Because religious authorities in India are held in such high regard, victims often find it difficult to come forward if their perpetrators are involved with the church, according to the former president of the All India Catholic Union, John Dayal.
However, in recent years a number of victims in Kerala have come forward to seek justice.
In April 2019, Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal was charged with raping a nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016. A group of nuns who spoke against his alleged abuse claimed the church attempted to transfer them to other parts of the country, in a bid to silence them. Mulakkal, who is now based in the northern state of Punjab, has denied all allegations.
Former Catholic priest, Robin Vadakkumchery was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2019 for raping a 16-year-old girl in Kerala. The incident came to light only after the victim gave birth in February 2017.
The victim and her parents attempted to redirect focus away from the priest. Her father went as far as telling the court that he was the one who raped his daughter.
Sister Abhaya's parents died in 2015, before their daughters' attackers were brought to justice.
"I just wish my parents could have been here to see it happen," said Thomas, Sister Abhaya's brother. "That's all they ever wanted."
Thomas said he "can rest in peace" and move on with his life, now that the case is finally over.
However, he said he still struggles to reconcile his sister's love for the church with the horror of what happened that night -- and the fact that those who purported to share her faith were the ones who "took her away."
COURT OF APPEAL UPHOLDS HON JOHN IWUALA AS IMO APGA CHAIRMAN
The Court of Appeal, Owerri Division, Presided over by Justice Lukolu Sodibe, today 20th day of January, 2021, struck out the interlocutory appeal filed by some APGA members, trying to dismiss the order given earlier by Justice Ngozi Ukoha of the High Court of Owerri.
You will recall that in her ruling, Justice Ukoha ordered the Party to revert to *Status Quo Ante bellum* and restrained the products of the purported Wards, LGAs and State Congresses of APGA in 2019 from presenting, parading or holding themselves out as executives of the party until the substantive suit is heard and determined. *Status Quo Ante bellum* in this sense means that the Caretaker Committee set by the NWC of APGA prior to the Congresses must be in place and oversee the running of the party in the state pending the final determination of the substantive suit before the court.
The products of the purported Congresses appealed the ruling of the lower court seeking the vacation of High Court order of which today, the Court of Appeal dismissed the interlocutory appeal filed by the counsel to the appellants, Chief Emeka Nwagwu, SAN.
In his argument, Chuef Emeka Nwagwu, SAN said that the lower court has no jurisdiction to take the decision it took and therefore the order should be vacated.
Reacting to what Chief Emeka Nwagu, SAN said before the appeal court, Fintan Illika Esq. argued that the court has jurisdiction to make the order it made, citing section 87, sub-section 9 of the Electoral Act which allows the court to question if the procedures of any Political party congress was or was not followed or if it is against the party electoral guidelines and constitution. Fintan Illika Esq further argued that it is premature in this case for the appeal court to intervene in the matter as it has not been fully heard and determined at the lower court.
In their ruling today, the Justices at the appeal court presiding over the matter unanimously agreed and struck out the appeal filed by Emeka Nwagwu, SAN and ordered that the matter should be returned to the High Court for the substantive issues to be heard and determined.
By virtue of today's Court of Appeal ruling, Hon John Iwuala remains the state Chairman of APGA in Imo state while parties await the reassignment of the matter from Court of Appeal to High Court, Owerri.
Mbah Adrian Uche
Reporting live from Court of Appeal, Owerri Division
PRESIDENCY CAUTIONS MUSLIM GROUPS AGAINST THREATENING KUKAH
• _SOKAPU youths vow to retaliate attack on cleric_
The Presidency has condemned Sokoto-based Muslim Solidarity Forum (MSF) for calling on the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah, to tender unreserved apology to the Muslims, or quietly and quickly leave the state, over his controversial Christmas essay.
Professor Isa Maishanu of MSF had described the essay as “malicious comment” against Islam.
In a statement yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu, the Presidency said MSF’s comment “is wrong because it is not in line with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to Shehu, under Nigeria’s constitution, every citizen has the right to, among others, freedom of speech and expression, the right to own property and reside in any part of the country, and the right to move freely without any inhibition.
“The Sultanate has historically had good relations with followers of all faiths. That is why Fr. Kukah was received on his arrival in Sokoto with friendship and tolerance.
“Under our laws, groups or factions must not give quit notices, neither should they unilaterally sanction any perceived breaches. Where they occur, it is the courts of law that should adjudicate,” he added, urging groups like MSF to share and uphold the country’s multi-religious principles.
BUT the Youth Wing of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has vowed to retaliate any form of attack on Kukah, over his recent message on Nigeria’s woes.
It was reacting to Maishanu’s statement, asking Kukah to vacate the Seat of the Caliphate.
National leader of the SOKAPU youth wing, John Isaac, pointed out that MSF was trying to incite the peace-loving people of Sokoto and some Northerners against the cleric over his Christmas essay, in which, “out of patriotism, he voiced out the obvious truth.’
The SOKAPU statement entitled ‘Enough of the Bigotry and Senseless Attacks on Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, lamented: “Prof. Maishanu could descend so low, throwing caution to the wind and toeing the path of religious rascality and bigotry by deliberately attempting to paint the bishop’s message in religious colour and further inciting the general Muslim Ummah against the bishop.
Kukah had written in his Christmas essay: “Every honest Nigerian knows that there is no way any non-Northern Muslim President could have done a fraction of what President Muhammadu Buhari has done with his nepotism and got away with it.”
Isaac said the demeaning call by “the so-called professor” for Kukah to apologise to the Muslim Ummah or quietly leave Sokoto was not just ridiculous and unacceptable, but an affront to the rights of all Nigerians to live freely in any part of the country.
His words: “We believe that the reckless statement credited to the professor does not, in anyway, reflect the position of a responsible group such as MSF.
“While we call on the Department of State Services (DSS) to arrest Maishanu to serve as deterrent to those already misled by his unguarded statements and prevent a religious war.”
The youths and people of Southern Kaduna will not accept further attacks on the person and character of Bishop Kukah under any pretence, as neither Maishanu nor any person or group can mourn more than the bereaved, he added.
“The bishop’s message was directed at the powers-that-be and cannot in any way be said to have been directed at Muslims and Islam, a religion well-known to profess peace.
“The youths of Southern Kaduna, therefore, vow to retaliate any form of attack directed or aimed at putting the bishop in harm’s way by any group of ethnic loyalists, religious extremists and enthusiasts.”