Published On: Sat, Apr 27th, 2013

Pastor Okotie in Legal Battle with Ex-Pianist over Assault, Non-Payment of salary

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Pastor Chris Okotie


A former pianist at the Household of God Church run by Reverend Chris Okotie, today filed a motion at a Lagos Magistrate court, asking for Reverend Okotie to be summoned as his own witness in an assault charge instigated against him by the church.
In the claim, Oklotor Daphiaghor, said his ordeal began when he asked to be paid his benefits by Reverend Okotie for his 13 years of service at the church as well as compensation due for other music deals they did together during that period.

Okotie, he said, turned down his request and threatened to deal with him if he insisted. The pianist said he was angry for the cheating and subsequent threats by Reverend Okotie such that he considered a personal protest at the premises of the church on July 10, 2012.
On that day, however, he was warned by police operatives who advised him to explore other means to pursue his claims from the pastor. Oklotor said he returned the following Sunday, July 15, to resume his protest after efforts to get Rev Okotie to meet his demands failed. He was then arrested and detained at the Kirikiri police Station and charged with ‘assaulting the man of God’, ‘preventing the man of God from entering the church’ and ‘breach of public peace’.
Reverend Okotie’s representatives claimed in his defence that everyone who worked in the church was a ‘volunteer.’ Some of the witnesses earlier presented by the church in court maintained the same position, claiming they were volunteers, but soon as questions were asked about whether the security personnel guarding the premises round the clock were also volunteers, the church, through its lawyer, Mr. Kola Dopamu, quickly said there were paid staff as opposed to volunteers. Mr. Oklotor was categorized as being among the volunteers.

On the contrary, during the trial, Adeolu Omotayo, who was said to be an IT engineer by profession but who heads the security team in the church, claimed the church had no employees.
He was contradicted by the church lawyer, Dopamu who stated that the church had both employees and volunteers. In substantiating this claim, some 10 security personnel in coded immaculate white apparel were shown as being the church’s officially paid staff, while the pianist was dismissed as a being a volunteer in the church.
Another witness called by the church, Mr. Niyi Ajayi, who was said to be a Security consultant and Personal Assistant to Reverend Chris Okotie, boasted he knew everything about the church and the past, and that he could not therefore have been mistaken that Mr. Oklotor was only a volunteer in the church.
For his all-knowing boast, however, when the pianist’s lawyer asked Mr. Ajayi who was in charge of the CCTV gadgets at the church, the witness said he was aware the church has CCTV gadget installed at the premises, but that he did not know who controls it.
Oklotor’s lawyer, Mr. Robert Igbinedion, today filed a fresh motion asking court to summon Reverend Okotie as the only witness who could provide the CCTV images for playing in the courtroom as evidence that his client assaulted the Reverend as has been claimed.
Curiously, other witnesses the church said it would present were absent, including Mrs. Sumbo, an Investigating Police Officer in charge of the case. The legal representative of the church had told court today that the witnesses were not available, but Mrs. Sumbo was seen at the police Station, sitting very close to the court. When asked why she was not in court to testify, she claimed she was not aware the matter was going on, whereas the legal representative for Reverend Okotie had claimed in court today that their witnesses were not available for testimony.
Saharareporters gathered that the lawyer for Reverend Okotie had been pressuring Mr. Igbinedion to tell the court that an micable settlement between both parties, Reverend Okotie and Mr. Oklotor, was in progress, but Mr. Igbinedion declined, maintaining he could say no such thing when he was not aware of any such agreement.

Meanwhile, in a secret attempt to further robe Mr. Oklotor into a corner, the church proxies asked him to write an apology letter to Reverend Chris Okotie so that they would intervene and settle amicably, but Mr. Oklotor refused, suspecting that the move was a tactic to use such correspondence as evidence that he had actually assaulted Reverend Okotie.

That is why, in his motion filed today, Mr. Oklotor pleaded with the court to summon Reverend Okotie as his only witness to play the CCTV which is under the control of the Pastor’s office, to show his alleged assault on the Pastor.
Sources close to Reverend Okotie described the grammarian preacher, musician and presidential flag-bearer of the Fresh Party during 2007 elections is a stubborn, randy fellow. Reverend Okotie recently and controversially took a new wife after divorcing two earlier women with whom he had exchanged marital vows.
The magistrate fixed May 10 for ruling on the application seeking a summon on Rev Chris Okotie to appear with CCTV evidence of his alleged assault.
Source: Saharareporters

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