Pastor with AK-47 rifle on pulpit has case to answer, Chief Magistrate rules

Pastor Uche Aigbe with his AK-47 riffle
A Chief Magistrate Court in the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Abuja has ruled that the Presiding Pastor of the House On The Rock Church, Uche Aigbe who mounted pulpit with Ak47rifle has a criminal case to answer .

He was charged for being in possession of prohibited firearms after the picture went viral in social media. He pleaded not guilty and later filed ‘a no case submissions’.

The no-case submission was dismissed by Chief Magistrate Abdulazeez Ismail Muhammad on Thursday , on the ground that the objection to trial lacked merit and substance.

Recalled that Aigbe caused a stir on Sunday, February 12, 2023, when he mounted the pulpit carrying an AK-47 rifle in the midst of the tension and anxiety that surrounded the February 25 presidential election. He has also been quoted to have made some controversial remarks about the election.

In a brief ruling on Thursday at Zuba, Magistrate Ismail held that from the totality of the evidence so far adduced, the defendant has been effectively linked with the charges preferred against him by Police.

The police had charged Uche Aigbe, Promise Ukachukwu and Olakunle Ogunleye with criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of prohibited firearms, inciting disturbance, and criminal intimidation, which they pleaded not guilty to.

The Police alleged that the defendants, all of House on the Rock Church, Wuye, Abuja, conspired with each other to illegally and unlawfully possess an AK47 rifle on February 12, 2023.

The prosecution counsel, Assistant Police Commissioner, James Idachaba, had informed the court that the defendants got the firearm from Inspector Musa Audu, attached to Wuye Division, posted on guard duty at the said Church.

He added that the defendants used the firearm to illustrate while preaching a sermon about faith in the Church.

The prosecution counsel alleged that the defendants made inciting and intimidating statements to the church congregation that could cause alarm and breach of peace.

The offence, he said, is punishable under Section III of the Firearms Act CAP F28, LFN 2004, and contravened Sections 97, 114, and 397 of the Penal Code.

In his ruling, Magistrate Abdulazeez Ismal, said: “In the light of the foregoing, and having found that prima facie case has been sufficiently established against all the 3 defendants, we proceed in the interest of justice, to frame the appropriate 3-counts charge against the defendants as follows.

“I Abdulazeez Ismail Muhammad, Magistrate Grade II, sitting at Zuba/Gwagwalada Magisterial Disrict, hereby charge you, Pastor Uche Aigbe, Pastor Promise Ukachukwu and Pastor Olakunle Ogunleye, as follows;

“1st COUNT: That you, Pastor Uche Aigbe, male, of No.21 Mambila Plateau Galadimawa and Pastor Okachukwu Promise, male, of Mba Pada House off Galadimawa Roundabout, on the 12th day of February,2023 at the House on the Rock Church, situate at Oladipo Diya Street Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, had in your possession one{1} AK47 rifle{with breach No.3368} without a licence or formal authorization. You thereby committed the offence of unlawful possession of prohibited firearms, contrary to s 3 of the FIREARMS ACT CAP F 28 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION 2004 and punishable under section 27{1b} of the same ACT.

“2nd COUNT: That you, Pastor Uche Aigbe, male, of No. 21 Mambila Plateau Galadimawa, Abuja, on the 12th day of February ,2023 at the House on the Rock Church, situate at Oladipo Diya Street, Abuja, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did make some inflammatory statements with intent to cause or likely to cause breach of peace to wit: you are calling people to take-up arms in order to propagate and defend their faith. Thereby committed the offence of inciting disturbance, contrary to s 114 PENAL CODE ACT and punishable under the same section.

“3rd COUNT: That you, Pastor Olakunle Ogunleye, male, of plot 735, Behind Games Village Kaura, Abuja, on the 12th day of February, 2023 at the House on the Rock Church, situate at Oladipo Diya Street, Abuja, abetted the unlawful possession of prohibited firearms by Pastor Uche Aigbe and Pastor Okachukwu Promise to wit; with a view to facilitate illegal possession of prohibited firearms you procured Inspector Musa Abdu, who was standing on his duty post to surrender his rifle to the said pastors. Thereby committed the offence of abetment contrary to the provision of s 83 of the Penal Code Act and punishable under s 85 of the same Act”.