“I received a call that my sister was no more. When I called Nwachukwu, he told me he had finally achieved what he intended to do. He said your sister is coming back dead”.
The hearing of the alleged culpable homicide case against Peter Nwachukwu, husband of the late gospel singer, Osinachi, continued at a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
Amarachi Ezeh, the twin-sister of the late gospel singer, alleged that her Mr Nwachukwu refused to allow their mother to visit her sick sister.
Ezeh, 42, testified for the prosecution in the alleged culpable homicide case against her late sister’s husband, Nwachukwu.
She said: “Pastor Becky Enenche of Dunamis Church, Abuja, intervened before Nwachukwu allowed our mother, Caroline Madu, to visit. He sent our mother out of his house after two weeks.
“A woman from Delta took our mother in and allowed her to stay in her house for one month. That was the last time our mother visited Osinachi,” she said.
Ms Ezeh alleged that Nwachukwu beat her sister when she was pregnant.
The witness narrated a particular incident where someone gave Osinachi N40,000, and on getting home, she said the defendant opened her purse, took the money, called her a thief, a prostitute and still beat her up.
The witness, in her testimony corroborated most of the allegations earlier given by her mother and sister, Favour, on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that their earlier testimonies on Monday alleged that the late singer never helped her family because the defendant prevented her from doing so.
They also alleged that the defendant maltreated the deceased.
During cross-examination, the defendant’s counsel, I.A. Aliyu, asked the witness if she ever attempted to discover her sister’s medical condition from the doctors.
The witness said she never did because the defendant stopped the family from doing so.
The witness shed tears while giving her testimony, and at a point, the defendant, too, broke down in tears.
NAN also reports that the prosecution counsel, Aderonke Imana, had earlier in the proceeding made three oral applications.
The first was brought under sections 156 and 158 of the Child Rights Act.
The application prayed the court to rule that persons other than the parties in the matter, the court officials, correctional service staff and the witness’ guardians, should not be allowed in court when the witnesses would give their testimonies.
The second application was premised on Section 160 of the Child Rights Act and Section 209 of the Evidence Act.
The application prayed the court to allow the other two witnesses, the deceased’s children, who are minors, to give unsworn evidence.
Under sections 1, 2 (1) and 157 of the Child Rights Act, the final application urged the court to allow the witnesses to be brought to the court blindfolded and their faces to be shielded.
Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme asked the defendant’s counsel if he had any objection to the applications.
When Mr Aliyu said he was not objecting to the application, the court granted the three applications.
Ruling on applications, the trial judge held that the applications were in the best interest of a child, whose interest must be considered paramount during a proceeding by shielding the child while giving testimony.
The court had, on June 3, ordered that the defendant be remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre after he pleaded not guilty to the alleged homicide charge filed against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
He is standing trial on a 23-count charge bordering on domestic violence and homicide instituted against him.
The defendant is accused of being responsible for the death of the late gospel singer popularly known for her song “Ekwueme”.
Nwachukwu was arrested by the police after his wife Osinachi died on April 8, following widespread allegations by their children, family and colleagues that he battered her.
Osinachi’s twin sister of the late gospel singer, Osinachi also told the court her sister’s husband tried many times to sow a seed of discord to separate them.
Ms Ezeh, 42, who lives in Enugu, took to the witness box to testify for the prosecution as PW3 in the alleged culpable homicide case against Mr Nwachukwu.
She said that before her sister’s marriage to the defendant, she was very close to Osinachi.
“As twins, we had a close bond. The defendant’s action toward me proved that he did not want us to have any relationship. Her husband was not comfortable whenever he saw me with my sister. He vowed to separate us,” she alleged.
When Aderonke Imana, the prosecution counsel, asked the witness to narrate her last encounter with her sister before her death.
She said, “My sister went through hard times. It was not the ulcer that killed her, and the beatings contributed to her death. She complained of chest pains and begged me to visit her in Abuja.
“I told her she knows her husband will not allow me, and she said I should forget about him and come.
“When I arrived at the hospital, my sister hugged me and started crying. After a while, Nwachukwu came in and asked me what I was doing in his house, and I told him I came to the hospital, not his house”.
Ms Ezeh said that she left the hospital after persistent pressure from her sister to leave due to the husband’s harassment.
“He insisted I leave the hospital, so I left with my brother around 11 p.m., ” she added.
The witness further alleged that Mr Nwachukwu told the nurses not to allow her in the ward the next day.
She also said that she got upset and refused to leave the hospital and that Osinachi, at this point, begged her to do what would make her happy by not calling, texting or revisiting her.
“I decided to leave, told her I loved her and hugged her for the third time.
“After I left that Friday, I began to feel strange.
“I received a call that my sister was no more. When I called Nwachukwu, he told me he had finally achieved what he intended to do. He said your sister is coming back dead,” she said.
During the cross-examination, I. A Aliyu, the defence counsel, asked the witness if the reason the defendant sent her away from the hospital was that the deceased needed to rest, according to her witness statement.
The prosecution counsel, at this point, objected to the question and stated that the witness statement was not before the court; therefore, Aliyu could not ask such a question.
Mr Aliyu, on his part, insisted that the document must be brought before the court to enable him to proceed with the question.
Justice Njideka Nwosu-Iheme ruled and aligned with Mr Aliyu’s submission and stepped down the matter for 20 minutes for the document to be brought in.
After the document was brought in, Mr Aliyu sought to tender it, and Mr Imana objected, claiming that the document was not his. Therefore, he could not tender it.
The judge again ruled in his favour, and the document was tendered.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the judge made three oral applications earlier in the proceeding.
The first one was brought under the provision of sections 156 and 158 of the Child Rights Act.
The application sought that persons other than the parties in the matter, the court officials, correctional staff and the witness’ guardians, should not be allowed in the court when the witnesses would give their testimonies.
The second application Mr Imana brought was premised on section 160 of the Child Rights Act and section 209 of the Evidence Act.
She said the application prayed the court to allow the other two witnesses, the deceased children who are minors, to give unsworn evidence.
The final application brought under sections 1, 2 (1), and 157 of the Child Rights Act urged the court to allow the witnesses to be brought to the court blindfolded and for their faces to be shielded.
The judge had then asked the defendant’s counsel if he had any objection to the applications. When Mr Aliyu said he was not objecting to the application, the court granted the three applications.
The judge held that the applications were in the child’s best interest, which is paramount and must be considered during a proceeding child to be shielded while giving testimony.
The judge adjourned the case until July 15.