Mrs. Chinasa Onah, a Nigerian widow, has cried out over her son, Sunday Onah.
She is crying out over her son who was allegedly sent to prison in 2016 without trial and without explanation of his crime by a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Ikechukwu Ilo, who was serving at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Nomeh in Nkanu East Local Government Area of Enugu State, according to a report by SaharaReporters.
Narrating her ordeal, Mrs. Chinasa said they were living in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, till 2016 when her husband died, leaving her with Sunday and his younger brother, and forcing her to return to her village in Enugu State as she could not afford their house rent and other expenses in Abuja.
She said that when her husband died, she took her children back to Abuja where they were living because the children were still very small when her husband died.
“I could not afford the expenses in Abuja, because of that, we returned to the village. I dropped my children in the village and came to Enugu to look for what I could do to raise money and rent at least one room and then bring my children from the village.
“I found a place to work as a house help. The person said I should live in his place but it was not possible for me to bring my two children to the place. I was working there while I was going to Adoration.
“I met one lady called Chekwube at the Adoration and we became friends. She asked me about my children and I told her that my first son was 18 years old as of then.
“She said that she has a brother who was a Reverend Father that wanted someone to live with him. That instead of leaving the children in the village, I should bring them to live with the Reverend Father. I told her it was not possible for the Reverend Father to accept the two children, and she said she would live with one person while my first son would live with the Reverend Father, when I rent a house, then I would take the younger one living with her.
“I gave the Reverend Father and Chekwube my children on July 26, 2016. Then I kept asking Chekwube how the children were doing and she would tell me they were fine. At a point I told her I wanted to go and know the Reverend Father's place,” she explained.
Chinasa said that her friend, Chekwube was selling Okra in Ogbete Main Market, Enugu but since this incident occurred, “I don't even know where she is. I have gone to where she used to stay in the market but she is no longer there.”
She explained that they (Chekwube and herself) were still planning on how to go to the Fr. Ilo’s place when one day Chekwube called her and said that there was a problem. That Sunday and the Fr. Ilo had issues and Sunday set a generator house ablaze.
“Both of us went to the Reverend Father's place and I actually saw that the generator house was burnt and I asked them about my son and the Reverend Father, they told me they were at the police station. We went to the police station and I saw the Reverend Father in his White Sultana at the station.
“I rushed and held him on his leg and started begging him to forgive my son for whatever he did for the sake of my condition but he pushed me out with force and the stones there injured me but I rose up again and went back and held him but he pushed me off again. It happened like that for three times. The only thing he said was, "let him (Sunday) go and answer for himself there."
“The next thing I saw was that they handcuffed him, pushed him into a Hilux van and drove away and while I asked where they were taking him to, the Reverend Father just ignored me and drove off.
“The following day I went back to the Reverend Father's place and they told me to come back when the parish council would hold their meeting. I went back on the day the parish council held their meeting, and they asked of my father but I told them my father was seriously sick. As of then, my father was breathing through artificial oxygen and I told them, and that I was a widow and I have no one to call. But they all shouted at me and sent me out of the place that I was not serious.
“I went back there three times but the Reverend Father never wanted to listen to me. I repeatedly begged them but they insisted that I must bring my father. In that process my father died and I left my son's matter and concentrated on my father's burial.”
Chinasa lamented that since 2016, she has been begging Fr. Ilo to forgive her son for whatever he did but he refused till now, saying that “My son was 19 years when he went to live with the Reverend Father but he has been in prison since. He is currently about 26 years.”
Amid tears, Chinasa said, “I am currently half dead because those two children are the only thing my late husband left for me. Let them give my son a chance to talk and explain what happened. Since the incident happened, they have not given my son a chance to speak while my son said he has something to say about the main problem.
“My son is asking for a chance to talk because he said he has a lot of things to say. Now he is making different kinds of allegations against my son including that he killed somebody and I asked him for proof but he has not provided any proof.”
When SaharaReporters contacted Rev Fr. Ilo on the phone for comment, he said that Chinasa’s son, Sunday was only facing the law for crimes he committed, adding that the diocese and the Enugu State Ministry of Justice and the state Attorney-General had taken over the case and he had been forbidden from speaking on it.
According to him, the victim whom he said lived with for three months committed many crimes including an attempt to kill him but said that people were only calling him about the case to damage his image as he had no personal power to send the victim to prison without trial.
Rev Fr. Ilo said, “What happened is that I no longer have the power to speak to anybody about the case. The Diocese has taken over the case and has stopped me from speaking with anyone about it. Anybody who wants to find out about the boy’s case should go to the Diocese and speak with them.
“However, you should know that in the law, even in the constitution, it is not possible for one person to put somebody in prison without trial for years. People are just calling my name because they have mouth to talk. They are just spoiling my name while my hand is not in the boy’s case. The boy is facing the law. The law is after him for crimes he committed. The diocese has taken over. The diocese and the ministry of justice have taken over.
“The boy committed crimes and the attorney general and ministry of justice have taken over. People are just calling my name for nothing. I just came out to help people but I know what I have passed through because of that boy. The boy just lived with me for three months and he wanted to kill me and did many things. It is the law that is after him.
“Anybody who wants to know about it should go to the diocese and ministry of justice because he committed crimes against the state and the attorney general is the one prosecuting him and they have been going for court sitting. There is nothing I can say. People are just calling my name for nothing.”