By Chuwang Dungs, Jalingo
The Taraba State Police Command has dismissed speculations going round that the three clergymen and a member of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria (UMCN) that were arrested and arraigned last week was as result of a report that emanated from the office of the church leader, Bishop John Wesley Yohanna.
The Taraba State Police Command Public Relations Officer ( PPRO), Mr David Misal, in an interview told newsmen that the Clergymen were charged to court for secretly taking photographs of some sensitive location in the command headquarters which include, the Criminal Investigative Department (CID), the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) and other areas.
He said the incident which is in violation of official secret act of the Nigeria police provoked the police authority which led to their arrest and detention.
He explain that “On the 03-06-2021 the police Commissioner received a letter of complaint from one Rev. Yayuba B. Yoila and Rev. Yunusa Z. Usman of the United Methodist Church in Nigeria, indicating that some clergymen were engaged in destabilizing the existing peace in the church, so on the strength of the above, the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) sent an invitation letter to the clergymen for interrogation which they came, but on getting to the station they secretly took photographs of the Police headquarters gate, Criminal Investigative Department (CID), State Intelligence Bureau Office (SIB) and other sensitive locations in the police command and attached same with a written complain letter to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, that the police have been paid by Bishop John Wesley Yohanna to harass and torture the invited clergymen”.
He said the actions of the clergymen contravenes the provision of the official Secret Act of the Nigerian Police as such the accused were taken to court for prosecution.
Reacting on the decision of the court, Mr Misal noted that the police have no control over the legal proceedings of the court and cannot reverse the decision.
“What they did was an offense, their act contravenes the Official Secret Act, which states that any person who for any purpose prejudicial to the security of Nigeria, and enters in the vicinity of a protected place or photograph a protected place commits an offense and is liable to punishment, that is why we took them to Court, so if the court feels they should be remanded in the National Correctional Center then that is the decision of the court and we have no control over the decision of the court”.
Also, reacting to the allegations that Bishop Yohanna had paid the Police to harass and torture the Pastors, Mr David Misal noted that Bishop Yohanna has not written any complain letter to the police command and as such cannot be linked to the case between the Taraba police command and the clergymen.
“How can they accused the Bishop for being responsible for the court case with the clergymen? I have not seen any letter that was signed by Bishop John Wesley Yohanna, the complains letter we received was brought by Rev. Yayuba B. Yoila and Rev. Yunusa Z. Usman, but if anybody still wants to accuse the Bishop that is their own opinion, but the question I want to ask is, is it the same Bishop John Wesley Yohanna that ask the clergymen to take photographs of the police headquarters? Or is it the Bishop that asked them to send the photos outside the country? I am not aware of any Bishop sponsoring us, what we are doing is that we are investigating people who are revealing the secret of the Nigerian Police Taraba State Command”. He said.
It would be recalled that the three accused clergymen, Rev. Ande I Emmanuel, Rev. Ignatius Jesse, Pastor Ahmed A Ahmed and a laity Mr. Nicodemus Heman were granted bail on Thursday 24th June 2021, by Magistrate Bartholome Vakkai Kaigama at the Justice Mahmud Mohammed National industrial/Magistrate court Jalingo, after spending two days at the National Correctional Center in Jalingo.
While passing judgement on the bail application Magistrate Vakkai, said the accused persons will be granted bail after fulfilling the bail conditions.
“The accused persons will be granted bail with the following conditions, the accused persons will: Deposit their international Passports with the Court, pending the determination of the case by the court, secondly, accused persons will not travel out of the state for more than three weeks without notifying the court.
Furthermore, that each of the accused person must provide two guarantors who must be landlords within Jalingo metropolis and would pay the sum of N2,000,000 in an event that any of the accused goes missing”. He stated.
Magistrate Vakkai, then adjourned the case to 19th of July 2021 for the next hearing, noting that the essence of adjourning the case is to allow the police carryout further investigations.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the bail relief Rev. Ande I. Emmanuel said they are grateful to God for the bail granted to them and expressed optimism that they will be vindicated at the end.
“I am a pastor of the United Methodist Church in full connection, I have served the Church for 18 years without a single query in my record, I was invited to the court, as a law abiding citizen, I have to avail myself here. We are law abiding citizens, we will never indulge in any act that will breach public peace and security. So, we are been accused of something we know nothing about”.
He then called on all the members of the Church to be calm, noting that the case is a mere allegation and God will always vindicate his people.
Also, reacting on the decision of the court, the UMC leader in Nigeria, Bishop John Wesley Yohanna said he was shocked that the case involving his clergymen and the Nigerian Police Taraba State Command had escalated to this level despite the church earlier intervention on the issue.
“Initially, when I heard that a letter of complain was written to the Commissioner of Police Taraba State Command about our Church and that some of my Pastors and members were invited to the station for interrogation, I quickly wrote to the Police Command pleading with them to withdraw the case from the police station, because it was a church matter and we would like to handle the case within the church, but I was so shocked to my bones when I heard that my pastors and member were charged to court and remanded in the Nigerian Correctional Center for allegedly spying on the property of the Nigerian Police headquarters Taraba State Command” He said.
Bishop Yohanna, however called on members of the United Methodist Church to be calm and be law abiding citizens as the Church will do everything within it reach to help the Pastors and the member in this trying moment.