By Felix Ekwu
A police investigation report has exonerated the General Overseer of the Palace of God Bible Church, Effurun, Delta State, Apostle Michael Akpor and the two policemen attached to him of having a hand in the shooting of two passengers in a commercial Tricycle popularly referred to as ‘Keke’ at Ugbolokposo community.
Recall that on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, between the hours of 6pm and 7pm, a commercial tricycle conveying 3 passengers at Ugbolokposo Community in Effurun, hit and scratched a black Jeep and a man in a Police uniform came down from the black Jeep and shot severally at the Tricycle killing 2 passengers at the back seat.
The rider of the Tricycle sustained a bullet wound on his left shoulder while the lady in the front seat survived unhurt.
After the incident, it was alleged that the black Jeep which Apostle Michael Akpor was inside and his police escort comprising ASP Mesoro Victor and Inspector Ignatius Achazie, were accused of being behind the killing of two passengers, Charles Okpako and Ejiro Ekiepovwe.
When the incident was reported at Ebrumede Divisional Police Headquarters in Uvwie Council Area, one Festus Ebereri who emerged as an eyewitness identified ASP Mesoro as the policeman that shot the two deceased persons.
Consequently, an investigation was launched and in the end, a Police Investigation Report totally exonerated Apostle Michael Akpor and the two policemen attached to him of a murder case.
The Police Investigation Report reads in part below:
“… 4. FINDINGS: In the course of investigation coupled with the oral interview held and the black Lexus Jeep paraded for identification by the acclaimed eyewitness, Festus Ebereri ‘m’ the following facts emerged:-
“i. A case of Murder of one Charles Okpako ‘m’ and Ejiro Ekiepovwe ‘m’ was reported at Ebrumede Divisional Police Headquarters on 14/07/2022 by one Erhiga Omavovwe Andrew ‘m’ accompanied by one Rhoda Ese Okpako ‘f’.
“ii. One Daniel Essien ‘m’, the driver of the commercial tricycle conveyed three (3) passengers viz: a girl and two (2) boys namely, Ella Obayendo ‘f’, Charles Okpako ‘m’ and Ejiro Ekiepovwe ‘m’ at Ogbolokposu Community.
“iii. While reversing the tricycle along Ogbolokposu road, the rider accidentally hit a black Jeep with the tricycle’s side mirror.
“iv. A Policeman came down from the black Jeep, released a gunshot into the air first and started shooting at the tricycle.
“v. The bullets hit the two (2) passengers sitting at the back seat and they died on the spot while the rider of the tricycle escaped with a bullet wound on his left shoulder and the girt escaped unhurt.
“vi. The tricycle rider confirmed he was carrying three (3) passengers and not four (4) as stated by the eye witness, Festus Ebereri ‘m’ in pages A12 and A12a of the case file.
“vii. The black Lexus Jeep was paraded amongst five (5) other black Jeeps for Festus Ebereri ‘m’ to identify as he claimed he knows the Jeep, but failed to identify; he made additional statement on page 12b of the case file to that effect.
“viii. Festus Ebereri ‘m’ who claimed to be an eye witness identified ASP. Mesoro Victor as the Policeman that shot the two deceased dead.
“ix. An inspection of the movement register of the SPU Base 25, Asaba contradicted the claims of Festus Ebereri ‘m’ as ASP, Mesoro Victor left on 12/07/2022 at 1630hrs for a special duty to Osun States tagged “Osun Guber election”.
“x. The two (2) rifles issued to the two (2) Policemen were issued with thirty (30) rounds of live ammunition each which are all intact.
“xi. The Church of the 1st suspect, Apostle Michael Akpor ‘m’ is located off Uti Street, Effurun while the incident occurred at Ogbolokposu Community.
“xii. The Close Circuit Television (CCTV) footage clearly confirmed that the 1st suspect, Apostle Michael Akpor ‘m’ came out of his vehicle at the Church premises at about 1200hrs and entered the vehicle to leave the Church premises at about 2100hrs while the incident happed at about 1800hrs.
“5. CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION: In view of the findings above, it is crystal clear that the suspect, Apostle Michael Akpor ‘m’ was going on with his religious business in the Church as at the time of the incident…”
Following the clear bill of health, Apostle Akpor his wife, Rosemary, children, relatives, friends, including the 2 policemen attached to him, Sunday offered special thanksgiving to God for intervening in the matter.
The thanksgiving held at the headquarters of the church in Uti Street, Uvwie Local Government Area, was attended by an array of clergymen.
Giving an insight on the trying period, during the all-round white colour thanksgiving service, Apostle Akpor told the congregation that he was shocked to receive a call from the police at Ebrumede inviting him to answer to a case of murder a few days after the incident whereas on the said date and time he was in his church anchoring a programme.
Apostle Akpor explained that the man in a phone call said that he knew the tricycle rider who was shot and receiving treatment at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, Oghara and also saw him ordering his security men to shoot at the passengers in the tricycle but upon police investigation, he was cleared of the allegation.
He maintained that God exonerated him when the Tricycle rider contradicted the allegations of the first witness who claimed to be an occupant of the tricycle.
The founder of The Palace of God Bible Church wondered why such level of allegation would be levelled against him.
He thanked God for his mercies, describing his innocence in the case as the handiwork of God.
The clergyman commended members of his church, friends, the leadership of Ugbolokposo community and family members who fervently prayed through out the period and stood firm while the investigation lasted.
He equally praised the resilience of the Nigerian Police who against all odds carried out a thorough investigation on the said matter which found out that he was innocent of the accusation.
While appreciating God for showing up in his case, Apostle Akpor admonished the congratulation to always activate their faith and hold on to God I’m times of trials.
His wife, Dr Rosemary Akpor who could not hide her joy disclosed that the news of the accusation came to her as a rude shock knowing fully well that both of them were in the church on the said date and left by 9pm.
While warning rumour mongers to always verify their stories, she that the plan of the devil was to bring down their ministry.
In an interview, Mr Micheal Asugo and Mr Austin Nyekigbe equally thanked God for proving himself during the case describing it as a scandal.
Popular gospel musician Pa James Ofurhie, Evangelist Jerry Ekpekuro, Evangelist Solo Kings and Favour Akpor ministered in songs during the thanksgiving service.
The Itsekiri, Igbo and Uvwie dance groups also performed to the admiration of the congregation.
A drama depicting how Apostle Michael Akpor was accused and how God exonerated him was acted by members of the Oghara branch of the church.