(In the court. Court
clerk, policemen, those who came to court and some others
Magistrate: Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!
(Everyone rises ... The magistrate enters and sits down. The others then sit down.)
Court Clerk: My Lord,
on February 13, 1976, Corporal Okafo arrested these people, Ekwekwe, Nnodi,
Arinze and Ukoha, Akuuwa, his wife and Ibe, their servant, where they were
fighting. Including these women, who were witnesses.
Magistrate: These people who have been named, are they in this court now?
Court Clerk: They are all here, My Lord. (He starts to call their names, one by one. Those called answer "Present" or "I am here.")
Magistrate: Akuuwa! Tell the court how you all came to be fighting.
Court Clerk: Akuuwa!
Court Clerk: Come here. Enter this area (he points) so you can plead your case. Are you a Christian or are you a heathen?
Akuuwa: I am the head and the apostle and am also the prophet of the people of the Holy Spirit prayer house.
Court Clerk: Does this mean that you are a Christian?
Court Clerk: (He gives him the Holy Bible and he takes it. He tells him to repeat after him.) "I swear by this Holy Bible that I will tell the truth, and nothing but the truth. That I will not exaggerate, other than the truth only, as God is my witness.
Magistrate: All right. Tell us how it all happened.
Akuuwa: On the afternoon
of February 13, Ekwekwe, Arinze, Ukoha and Nnodi came to my house and committed
an abomination. No one was at home except for my servant Ibe. I met them
on the road as they were leaving and we greeted
Magistrate: What is the thing you say they excreted? Awful mess?
Akuuwa: It is not what was excreted, rather it was the abomination they committed in my house that I was referring to.
Magistrate: Say what you want to say quickly. I do not want long stories. I did not come here for other matters.
Akuuwa: They went and cut down, destroyed, the shrine where I go to pray which is behind my house, burned it down. When I entered and saw what they had done I went after them, chased them to the Ejekam Road. When I asked them what happened, rather than answer my question they started to beat me, and kept on beating me, and finally carried me away; it was while they were carrying me that this policeman (he points to him) came and pulled me away from them.
Magistrate: Does anyone have a question to ask him?
Ekwekwe: Yes! I have a question for him.
Court Clerk: Quickly, ask your question.
Ekwekwe: Akuuwa! You said that we cut down the shrine where you prayed, and burned it; what was used to build that shrine?
Akuuwa: Ekwekwe! You ask me what was used to build the shrine; do you not know what you all came to my house to destroy?
Policeman: Shut your mouth! Answer the question that you were asked! Do not ask a question on top of a question.
(Akuuwa is silent and does not answer the question.)
Court Clerk: If you do not want to answer the question that you were asked, let another one be asked. (He turns and looks at Ekwekwe.) Do you all have another question? (Nnodi raises his hand and he tells him to go ahead and ask.)
Nnodi: Is it just now that you remembered that we struck you? Do you then have a witness? What did you tell this policeman on the day he arrested you?
Akuuwa: The policeman is here, let him say if he did not see when you all carried me.
Magistrate: Corporal Okafo! Do you have a question, since they have mentioned your name?
Cpl. Okafo: My Lord, I have a question I would like to ask Akuuwa.
Court Clerk: Quickly, ask it.
Cpl. Okafo: Akuuwa! Listen
carefully to see if you recognize who spoke these words, on the day I arrested
you all: "Let me question them about the land they desecrated at my house;
this one called Ukoha, one who cannot even take a
Magistrate: Akuuwa! Do you know who said what this policeman read out?
Akuuwa: It was I, My Lord.
Magistrate: Was there a time that you told this policeman that they struck you?
(Akuuwa remains silent.)
Court Clerk: Is there nothing you want to say in reply then? All right, any further questions?
Arinze: Tell this court the type of prayers you pray in that place, as well as the people with whom you pray them.
Akuuwa: I am the only one who prays there. I go there when things are difficult for me, in order to receive the special power I use in my work.
Court Clerk: Final questions!
Ukoha: You did not tell how you lifted me and threw me to the ground and grabbed me by the throat, and how we told you that we did not want any fighting and wrestling. Besides this, that house that you said that we burned-- what and what burned inside of it? How about those who put out that fire?
(Akuuwa remains silent.)
Court Clerk: Do you have
nothing to say in reply? (Akuuwa remains completely silent.) Ekwekwe! Let
us hear from you. (He then administers the oath to Ekwekwe.) "I swear by
the Holy Bible that I will tell the truth and nothing but the
Magistrate: Quickly, start telling your side of the story.
Ekwekwe: Akuuwa is our
leader in the prayer house Church of the Holy Spirit. He is the one who
receives the money and other gifts. He is also the one who keeps the money
and also the one who decides what the money will be used for. We do not
have any say; our job is to pay the dues, come and pray, arrange the building,
and leave. For example, there is someone we all prayed for, whose name
is Brother Jude. When this man went back to Lagos, things were going well
for him, he sent us a bag of money to support the work we were doing. Whether
that money is in the sky or on the earth, we do not know. He did not speak
of it in anyone's hearing. But you cannot hide a pregnancy with the hand.
We found out that he was building a storied house in their village now,
and we also know that there is no other way he makes money (unless he has
a machine that prints
Magistrate: Sir! Stop all these long tales and tell us, without wasting time, how you all came to fight.
Ekwekwe: We did not fight him. We told him that we did not want to fight, nor did we want to wrestle, because we were doing the work of the Holy Spirit who led us. We told him this when we met him on the road. While we were on the return path he followed behind us, boasting, and scolding us with fighting words. When he saw that we did not want to fight he lifted Ukoha and threw him to the ground and grasped him by the throat to kill him. We went to pull him up from where he continued to hold Ukoha down, and it was while we were pulling him off that a policeman came and arrested us.
Magistrate: (Looks at Nnodi, Ukoha and Arinze and questions them): Are you all in agreement with Ekwekwe's testimony?
All of them: Yes! He has testified for all of us.
Ukoha: But he has not completely told how hard he beat me. Indeed, my eyes saw the spirits, and I would have reached the land of the spirits when he grabbed me by the throat, but my god did not allow it.
Magistrate: Akuuwa! You have heard Ekwekwe's testimony; is this how it happened? Do you have questions you want to ask them?
Akuuwa: I have questions, My Lord.
Court Clerk: Quickly, ask your questions quickly.
Akuuwa: Where was the Holy Spirit when he instructed you? Did he come to your houses one by one? Or was it in my house of prayer? Where!
Ekwekwe: It was in the house of prayer!The day that you went into the desert to pray, I saw it in a vision.
Akuuwa: Why did you not let me know something like this when I returned?
Ekwekwe: The Holy Spirit did not instruct us to tell you.
Akuuwa: Ukoha, what did you say that made me lift you and throw you to the ground? Am I a mad person?
Magistrate: So you admit that you started the fight? All right. Do you have any other significant questions? (Akuuwa remains silent. The magistrate looks at the policeman.) Are there questions you want to ask them?
Cpl. Okafo: I have no questions, but I will say what I saw. I went and saw that shrine. It was not fire that burned it; only white candles had been lit and were spread around the place haphazardly. Another thing was that on that day, I saw Ukoha lying on the ground, his eyes bulging like a rat that had been crushed on the ground. Akuuwa himself admitted what I read here that he said.
Court Clerk: Is there someone who has something else to say? Or other questions? (Silence everywhere.)
Magistrate: All right.
I will look at all of your testimonies, gather them together, and then
make a judgment in this case. What brought you to this court was a fight.
Since all of you go to the same church and also believe that the Holy Spirit
... is able to send anyone among you a message. It is not up to me to judge
whether that message Ekwekwe said that the Holy spirit sent them is the
truth or a lie. If Akuuwa discovers, and is able to explain it well, that
it was not the Holy Spirit who sent them to do a job at his shrine, at
that time let him go and sue them in court. But Akuuwa himself agreed,
from the testimony that is
Policeman: Court! (All rise, the Magistrate gets up and goes out.)
The lights go out.
Life is good if one takes care of it.The lights go out.