Court remands pastor for sexual abuse of teen

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From Tony John, Port Harcourt

A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has remanded the pastor of a new generation ministry, Mercy House Church International, Bishop Felix Okpara Duruebube, at the PortHarcourt Correctional Centre.

The cleric was remanded after he failed to meet up his bail conditions when he was arraigned before Chief Magistrate N Anugbum.

The accused person was arraigned on a two-count charge by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID).

Reading the charge, Chief Magistrate said Bishop Duruebube between the month of April 2021, to May 2022 at RayJPE Hotel Rumuokoro, Mercy House Church branch Iwofe and N0.42A road 12 Rumuahulu, PortHarcourt, in PortHarcourt magisterial district did unlawfully and sexually abused a girl between the ages of 16 and 17 years.

He reportedly committed an offence punishable under section 32(1) (2) of the Child Rights Act CAP 50 Law of Rivers State, 2003.

The magistrate also said sometime in the month of December 2021, at Mercy House Church International headquarters in Eliozu in the same aforementioned magisterial district, the suspect did unlawfully forced the minor to take an oath not to sleep with another man or tell anybody about the illegal love affair; otherwise, she would run mad and die.

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On count two, the accused person committed an offence punishable under Section 208 of the Criminal Code, CAP 37, Vol .11 Laws of Nigeria, 2004.

However, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and was granted bail by Chief Magistrate Anugbum, with two sureties in the like sum of N2 million.

One of the sureties must be a bishop, while the second surety must be a relative with landed property within the Magisterial district.

Speaking to reporters, the chairperson, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Rivers State, Mrs Adata Bio- Briggs, said the organization was pleased with the condition of bail given to the accused by the trial magistrate.

The FIDA chairperson tasked people to test all spirit and mind worship centres they go to.

She frowned at situations where clerics would be encouraging the settlement of criminal matters.

Mrs Bio-Briggs added that FIDA would follow up on the matter to ensure justice is served.

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