Premium Times (Abuja)

5 February 2013

Nigeria: Okotie Fails to Appear Before Lagos Court

The head of the Household of God Church International, Chris Okotie, on Tuesday, failed to appear before an Ikeja Magistrate Court.

In an ongoing matter in which Mr. Okotie accused Dafiaghor Okiotor, a former keyboardist in his church, of "despicable and criminal acts of blackmail, threats, intimidation and forgery to extort N39 million" from him; the flamboyant pastor urged the police to prosecute Mr. Okiotor.

Mr. Okiotor claims that he was only trying to recover the money owed him by the church after spending 14 years of his life playing the keyboard and producing music for Mr. Okotie.

Six witnesses, most of them workers at the Household of God Church, were billed to testify.

Mr. Okotie, however, was the only one absent in court, on Tuesday.

The magistrate stated that if there is a law that compels a witness to appear before a court, Mr. Okiotor's lawyer can resort to it.

Gag the defendant

Kola Dopamu, a counsel to Mr. Okotie, urged the magistrate to gag the defendant.

"There is a trend that is going on that we believe is inimical to justice," said Mr. Dopamu, holding a watching brief for Mr. Okotie.

"The issue we want to draw your attention to is the publication of falsehood via the social media and all sorts of media about Pastor Okotie.

"We just felt that it is indeed disrespectful to this court. The matter is before your honour," he added.

The magistrate ordered Mr. Okiotor to desist from talking about the case.

"You have to maintain the status quo. You are not permitted to take any further step until the court decides," the magistrate said.

"If you feel your right is infringed on, you can file a civil action," she added.

The matter was adjourned till February 15.

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