From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
There was jubilation in Anambra on Tuesday when a high court sitting in Otuocha in Anambra East discharged and acquitted eleven youths from Uruebo Nkewelle Ezunaka community over alleged attempted kidnapping, cultism and malicious damage against fiery priest Rev Fr Emmanuel Obimma (Ebubemnso).
The priest and spiritual director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry Uke, who hails from the town, had in June 2020 arrested the youths over alleged attempted kidnapping, malicious damage, cultism on his life.
When the matter was, however, called for trail, the complainant told the court of his intention to withdraw the case on the ground that the youths were his brothers who should be forgiven.
‘If we should go by the legal interruption, I don’t think the youths will come out of the case but there is saying in law that ‘we should tamper justice with mercy and in justice man was condemned and at the same time in mercy man was redeemed’. They are my brothers but something happened, so I had to give them correction,’ the priest said.
‘What is important is that there is peace now and everybody is happy, hooliganism is bad, cultism is bad and I will continue to warn the youths against the vices. I advise the youths to be industrious and work hard to actualise our dream. The youths are the hope of the nation,’ Fr Obimma said.
The presiding judge, Justice HN Ozoh, after hearing from the complainant, discharged and acquitted the youths.
There was wild jubilation at the court premises after the judge discharged the youths by the people of the community and family members of the youths who besieged the court.
The youths who came from the state correctional centre in inmate uniforms changed their clothes and joined their family members in celebration.
The discharged youths, family members and well wishes in motorcade drove back to their community with traditional music and fanfare. Those at home received the youths with happiness and thanked God.
Elders in the town Ogbuefi Abel Okafor and Ogbuefi Augustine Okadigbo, whose sons were among the youths released, commended the court for its action and said that a lot needs to be done in the community to bring lasting peace.
They noted that their children never committed the crime they were accused of by the Rev Fr Obimma, stressing that the withdrawal of the case was a way forward for peace and reconciliation.