Ola ‘Kiya, Reporting
FACTS have emerged on how operatives of the Nigeria Police, Delta State Command, were used to humiliate the Senior Pastor and Founder of Victory Revival Fasting & Prayer Ministry in Warri, Bishop Elijah Orhonigbe, by hanging on his neck a rape allegation.
Out of the blues, Bishop Orhonigbe, who had conducted a deliverance session for a supposed possessed Miracle Omalor in the open with other ministers, was arrested and alleged to have drugged and raped the 19-year-old girl.
Although the cleric has been discharged and acquitted on November 22, 2022 for want of proofs by Hon. Justice Anthony Akpovi of the Warri High Court 2, in suit No W/28C/2020, Bishop Orhonigbe is yet to come to terms with how the police could be so used to persecute and smear his image.
Recall that Bishop Orhonigbe was arrested in May 20, 2020 by operatives of the Delta State Police Command following a report by mother of Omalor that her daughter had been raped in church where she had asked her to go for deliverance from the spirit of death.
The man of God was arrested and remanded in cell by a Warri Magistrate Court until Justice Akpovi of the High Court sitting in Warri granted him bail, after fulfilling the bail condition of providing two sureties, who each paid N1m as part of the requirements for his bail, among others.
The police, who were apparently acting a script, later slammed the bishop with additional charges of alleged administering of substance to the girl before rape and impersonation of lawyers and academics.
Hon. Justice Akpovi, however, in November 22, 2022, quashed the case and discharged the bishop for want of proofs from the Nigeria Police, Delta State Police Command, who arrested and charged him to court after much media and social media trials.
Speaking on the judgement on Sunday, one of the counsels to the discharged bishop, Mr Olukoya Ayodele, averred that the whole episode was a set-up from enemies of the cleric in connivance with some elements in the Nigeria Police as well as his driver and another lawyer.
“The police in the court said they didn’t have money to carry out a forensic test on the rape victim’s blood and urine to ascertain that she was drugged.
“On alleged impersonation, the police also claimed that they could not raise money to do investigation in Lagos because they had brought some receipts alleging that the bishop went to Lagos using the name Barrister Elijah Orhonigbe.
“The court after seeing through all the evidence, the judge found that the man of God did not commit any of the three offences.
“Two of the counts would have sent him to a life imprisonment. Administering banned substance and rape attract life imprisonment.
“We’ve come to tell the whole world that Bishop Orhonigbe is, indeed, innocent of the allegations.,” Olukoya noted.
Addressing journalists at his church auditorium on Sunday, too, Bishop Orhonigbe, who thanked God, his church members and lawyers for vindicating him, said he had prepared to go to jail if truly he was found guilty, saying it was a set up.
He said he was a victim of envy and conspiracy by those who wanted to render desolate his God-given ministry with an allegation that he raped a girl who was openly prayed for in broad daylight with the assistance of other ministers in the church auditorium.
Narrating his ordeal, he recounted, that “On 20th of May, 2020 after the church midweek service a member of my church requested to see me and I granted audience.
“Her complaint was that she had been dreaming about one of her daughters called Miracle Omalor that she died.
“I requested to see her, when she was finally brought at about 9:00a.m, I prayed for her in the church auditorium in the presence of three of my church members who took part in the prayer session after which she left for home at about 11:30a.m or thereabout.
“At about 5:00p.m that same day, I was still in the church premises when I saw a large crowd at the church entrance shouting that ‘see the rapist’ at the same time they were banging the church gate.
“Eventually it became police case. I was detained by the police. At the police station, I was alleged to have drugged the lady before raping her with blood all over her body.
“My phone was seized, some of my ushers and pastors were arrested, they made statements and were detained for hours.
“On the third day in detention, the police brought another allegation of impersonation.
“My phone that was in police custody was loaded with photo shopped pictures of me dressed in lawyer’s wig, academic graduation gown receiving award from Barrack Obama (former USA President), having a handshake with the V.P. Osibanjo and so on.
“The police went to search my office without taking me along and at the end, they came up with an arranged evidence to prove that I was parading myself as a lawyer.
“Eventually I was charged to court. But before I was charged to court, a lawyer was recommended to my members as the only one who could talk to the police. I paid him some money.
“At the Magistrate Court, I was remanded. The lawyer that was recommended to me did all he could to ensure that I settled the case by paying the alleged victim, but I refused until information came to me through the lawyers I personally briefed that the lawyer recommended to me was the lawyer who started the case for the alleged victim.
“At that point, I told him I did not want to see him again. I was eventually granted bail. While on bail, I took my car to carwash and I was surprised to see printed copies of those pictures police planted in my phone inside the car; they were parked in a brown envelop and kept under the back foot carpet.
“I was compelled to sack my driver as we were just two who had access to the car. That was when I realized that he was part of the conspiracy.
“The matter went to the High Court for trial. The police told the court that they did not have money to carry out tests to show if drug was in the victim’s blood or urine and to investigate the case of impersonation.
“It was clear that the victim who initially claimed not to have known any man had a first child at the age of 17 and was also pregnant for another man when the case was on, just as her mother admitted in court to have given birth to three daughters for three different men..
“After several months of trial, the court gave a judgment and set me free to the glory of God,” he enthused
He, however, use the opportunity to “openly thank my creator who has vindicated me; to him alone be all the glory.
“I also want to thank the church members who stood by me all through my trying period. I want to thank my lawyers Chief E. L. Umuze and Barrister Olukoya Ayodele for their good job.”
Bishop Orhonigbe, however, said his lawyers would consider his next action whether to sue the police and their accomplices (including a lawyer and his former driver) who had falsely accused him, after the receipt of the court’s certified judgement.