The Rivers State Family Court has sentenced a 55-year-old cleric, Piler Erekwa to seven years in prison with hard labour for defiling and impregnating a 15-year-old girl in the Ndele community, Emuoha Local Government Area of the state.
Erekwa, who is the presiding pastor of the Glorious Covenant Church was arrested late June 2023 by men of the Rumuji Police Division. The victim and her mother were members of the church.
In his judgment on Wednesday, July 19, 2023, the presiding Chief Magistrate, Ogeh Elkanah, ruled that Pastor Erekwa would pay the sum of N500,000 to the family of the abused teenage girl for the medical bills accrued during pregnancy.
Chief Magistrate Elkanah said the cleric will pay the bills upon completion of his jail term.
Recall that Erekwa had pleaded guilty to one count charge of sexual abuse when the charge was read.
The charge was preferred against him by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Police Command.
The cleric had also allegedly proposed termination of the pregnancy, but the girl’s family who had confronted him with the issue objected to it.
Meanwhile, journalists were barred from covering the court proceedings, as the Chief Magistrate excused newsmen from the courtroom immediately after he called for the matter.
The Chief Magistrate explained that the Family Court was not like a regular court, hence journalists must seek leave of the court before reporting a matter from a family court.