A popular Warri cleric, Bishop Elijah Orhonigbe, has been arrested by the police in Delta over alleged rape of a 19-year-old girl, identified as Miracle, who was undergoing deliverance in his church off Apalla in the heart of Warri South council area.
The suspect who is the founder/general overseer of a popular prayer ministry, Victory Revival Fasting and Prayer Ministry, was arrested last Friday weeks after the police had declared him wanted over the crime.
Briefing newsmen over the arrest, the Warri Area Commander, ACP Mohammed Muktar Garba, told newsmen that the suspect was currently being detained at the “A Division’” police station.
He disclosed that the arrest was effected following complaint by the mother of the victim who took the daughter to her church for deliverance to avert sudden death based on the revealations of her the pastor who happens to be her spiritual father for many years.
According to ACP Garba, “she said the pastor had a dream that death was hovering over their house and for peace to reign, she should bring her daughter, Miracle for prayers (deliverance).
“The woman brought the lady to the church pastor. I think what really happened is that the pastor drugged that lady and raped her. I personally took the lady to the hospital because she was in coma for two days.
“We are looking for this pastor for the past three weeks. Later on I used my detectives to trace where he hid and I got him arrested and am charging him to court now. This is somebody that I arrested since Friday. He has been in cell since Friday, Saturday, Sunday and today Monday, I am charging him to court.”
While noting that the police would ensure full scale investigations into the matter, ACP Garba acknowleged that, “we have prophets that are good. We have churches that are very good. But I cannot imagine a pastor raping his member inside the church premises.
“And it is this same pastor that’s making allegation that the police are looking for money to release him. He has a right to say whatever he wants to say. But as far as I’m concerned and as far as I remain the Area Commander, this man is going to court and he must be charged to court.”
While noting that rape is an offence in the sight of the law, ACP Garba said: “We have evidence to prove rape and we have established that this pastor raped that girl.
“We have the pictures. We have examined her. I took her to the doctor. He has examined her private parts and we have everything to charge this man to court.”
ACP Garba also denied allegations of collecting money from the suspect to release him or suppress the matter.
In his words, “I did not demand a dime from him and I will not collect a dime from him. He must face the wrath of the law.”
In a swift reaction, the suspect, Bishop Elijah denied the allegations leveled against him.
The cleric who spoke with newsmen on his way out of the police station to court said: “I did not rape her.”
According to the bishop, “she came to church on that faithful day on the 20th of May. The mother brought her to the church for deliverance and I prayed for her in front of the alter in the presence of three people. Immediately, after the prayer, she left the church …. She came back 5 ‘o’ clock with policemen and crowd saying this is the man. I did not rape her.”
Narrating her ordeal before newsmen, the victim said she was a member of the church from cradle before she stopped.
She said the suspect saw a vision and asked her mother to bring her for deliverance.
The victim pointed out that the cleric said she (victim) slept with a suspected internet fraudster (Yahoo Boy) and that they cleaned her up with a handkerchief with an intention to use her for ritual.
The victim claimed that the cleric gave her olive oil to insert in her private part just as he also gave her more to drink before asking her to strip naked and lie down on a mat in the church with the sliding windows and doors closed.
“He started f**king me through the back. That was all I could remember. There were sperm all over my body. I shouted. He even said I should come again.”
The victim demanded for justice saying, “I want to be the last he will do this to.”
Mother of the victim, Mrs. Taye Edema corroborated the claims of her daughter just as she demanded that justice prevails on the matter.
“They didn’t give me a dime. I don’t want to collect any money. I want justice.”
A human Right activist, Comrade Israel Joe insisted that justice must prevail on the matter.
While noting that the human right bodies in the state were not fighting the body of Christ, Joe said: “We are fighting against antichrist not the body of Christ.
“So, we stand for justice. We want justice to be done. Rape is a criminal offence and it has been criminalised by our law and society.
“So, there is no way anybody will want to compromise the issue that has to do with rape and defilement. Am happy the police are standing for justice.
“The press are standing for justice and collectively, we are saying no to rape and the bishop should be taken to court and prosecuted with all laws that have to do with rape and defilement.”
The Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Hafiz Inuwa, confirmed the arrest of the bishop in a telephone chat
CP Inuwa said: “Yes, I am aware even though out of the state on official duties. I have been fully briefed by the Area Commander. It’s a case of rape in which the bishop drugged the girl in the pretext of deliverance then thereafter raped her.
“All efforts to make the police compromise on the case hit a brick wall because the law of this country is not a respecter of anyone. We remain resolute to be just in our investigation.”
Earlier, counsel to the bishop, Barr. Presley Okojie in an interview with newsmen at the Area Command said: “The story is not correct. The police are still investigating the matter. My own duty is to represent my client to see how I can secure police administrative bail. But if the police say no, if they say they want to arraign him, so be it.”
The legal practitioner who denied that the Area Commander in Warri allegedly collected money from the suspect to release him on bail.
“He who asserts, must prove. The person should come and tell us how and when.”
Lawyer to the victim’s family, Prince Clem Ade Omotoye condemned the act in all its ramifications saying: “We are ready to follow the matter to its logical conclusion.”