By Robert AKPAN, Senior Investigator Reporter, Lagos.
RADICAL preacher and General Overseer of Resurrection Praise Ministries for Africa, popularly known as Jehovah Sharp Sharp, Archbishop Samson Benjamin might have meant well when he left the cozy office of his church in Satellite Town Lagos Tuesday afternoon for the Chinese Embassy in Victoria Island to protest the unwarranted and ceaseless attacks on Nigerians resident in China. But this personal show of patriotism by the popular cleric notorious for his instant miracles was however, skewed and ill-timed judging by the prevailing scenario accessioned by the lockdown order over the ravaging covid-19 pandemic. The Police alleged that he stormed the Chinese Embassy with almost 100 parishioners of his church. So while still making his way to the premises of the Chinese Embassy together with those he went with, Police operatives attached to Victoria Island Division swung into action and got them arrested. They were later transferred to the dreaded SCIID Panti Yaba where they were grilled for several hours on why they chose the period to register their displeasure over the attacks on Nigerians in China in flagrant disobedience to extant laws. Frantic entreaties by the distraught cleric to convince the Police that he meant well when he went to the Embassy were rebuffed as he and his sidekicks were detained.
Early today, Wednesday, April 22, 2020, Archbishop Samson Benjamin and two of his staunch followers, Jerry Abel and Johnson Benjamin were dragged before an Igbosere Chief Magistrate Court sitting before Magistrate Yewande Oshin on a three count charge bothering on failure to stay at home and conduct likely to cause breach of the peace, offences contrary to COVID-19 Regulation and punishable under Section 5 Quarantine Act, 2020, as well as Sections 122 and 168 Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015. Director of Public prosecution, Dr. Jide Martins in Suit number A/20q/2020 had informed the court that the three defendants violated the state’s extant laws on stay-at-home of the Lagos State Government even as they conducted themselves in a manner that was capable of causing breach of peace. But the defendants who were not represented by any Counsel denied the allegation and pleaded not guilty to the charges pressed against them.
In view of this, the Magistrate then admitted them to bail but with stringent conditions. Whereas, the cleric was admitted to bail with the sum of N1million, the other two were to produce N500, 000 cash with two sureties each who must be a Church owner with at least three branches in the country before being granted bail. They had therefore, been remanded in Police custody pending when they perfect their bail conditions.
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