New twist to Nigerian pastor’s $70 000 theft case

THE case of a Bulawayo-based Nigerian businessman and church leader, Oma Alphonsus Achinulo, who was being accused of stealing over $70 000 from his Zimbabwean business partner, took a new twist on Wednesday, when the complainant asked the court to allow them to have an out-of-court settlement.

BY SILAS NKALA

The request came after Achinulo (48) had complained the State was dragging its feet in dealing with the case, which had been transferred from Gwanda regional magistrate Joseph Mabeza’s office to Gwanda provincial magistrate Maphios Moyo.

On Wednesday, Achinulo, represented by Lison Ncube, appeared before Moyo, and Masuku, the complainant, requested the court to allow them to try and reach an out-of-court settlement.

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The magistrate then remanded the matter to March 9 to allow the parties to seek an agreement.

Before the matter was transferred to the provincial court, Mabeza and the prosecutor, Johannes Tlou, recused themselves after Achinulo complained they were biased.

The Nigerian pastor suspected foul play in the manner the matter was being handled and openly expressed discontent.

Last year, Achinulo complained that Mabeza and Tlou were seen having lunch with Masuku and other State witnesses and feared he would not get a fair trial.

He then filed an application for review of the proceedings at the High Court and Justice Maxwell Takuva ordered that the matter be dealt with by another magistrate.

The case had attracted the attention of the Nigerian diplomatic mission to Zimbabwe, as they, on December 11 last year, attended court proceedings, amid suspicion they feared their fellow citizen was being harassed by locals.

Achinulo, who is director of Enfund Trading Company, is accused of stealing more than $70 533,34 from Masuku.

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