The conflict rocking the Cross River State chapter of the United Nigerian Chaplaincy, a non-governmental organization has taken a new turn with the acquittal of Pastor Mercy Effiom by a Calabar Magistrate Court of forgery and embezzlement of funds.
The Court presided over by Chief Magistrate Boniface Onyam on Monday May 27, 2013 acquitted the Prophetess of forgery stating that her certificates were investigated and confirmed to be original copies issued by the institutions she attended even as the change of name on the certificates from Ikpeme Esuabana to Mercy Felix Effiom was done in 2003 to reflect her change of status from single to a married woman.
“Her name change which was done in 2003 was to reflect her new status as a married woman”. The Court stated.
According to Magistrate Onyam, the schools she attended beginning from primary through university wrote letters to the Court to confirm that she actually attended the schools and was awarded the certificates.
“Atan Onyom Primary School which awarded her a First School Leaving Certificate in 1983, Comprehensive Secondary School, Eniong Abatim, which awarded her Senor Secondary School Certificate in 1989 and the University of Calabar which awarded her the Bachelor of Science degree in 2006 were all approached and they wrote to confirm that she is the rightful person they awarded the certificates”.
On the allegation that she embezzled the sum of N9m belonging t the Chaplaincy, Chief Magistrate Onyam in his ruling stated that since she is not the one who collects money or handled the association’s cash, she was not guilty of embezzling funds which were not kept in her custody or given to her to take to the bank.
Having found her not guilty on the two count charge, the Chief Magistrate ordered that her certificates which were confiscated by the police and used as exhibit while the case lasted should forthwith be returned to her.
It would be recalled that in December 2012, the Cross River State chapter of the United Nigerian Chaplaincy was embroiled in crises when two factions emerged laying claim to the leadership of the organization.
While Chaplain Obong Ita Edet Akpan, the Secretary of the organization and Richard Offiong Iyamaba held that Chaplain Sunday Eminue the Commander of the Chaplaincy and his assistant, Chaplain Mercy Felix Effiom had embezzled the sum of N9m and were able to ascend to the top hierarchy of the organization with forged certificates, Eminue and Mercy Effiom rejected such claims as blackmail and the matter eventually ended in a court action with suit number MC 818C/2012.
Reacting to her acquittal, Pastor Effiom thanked the Cross River State police command on their judicious and diligent investigation of the matter by taking the pains to visit the schools she attended to ascertain the authenticity of her certificates and also the Cross River State Security Adviser, Mr Rekpene Bassey for his patience and advise to the police that they should be thorough in their investigation on the matter.
“The way the police investigated the matter and the advice from Mr. Rekpene Bassey, the State Security Adviser show that there is still hope for the common man for fair justice in this country”. She stated.
What remains to be seen now is how the Chaplaincy will move on without rancor now that the prophetess has been acquitted by the court.
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