Yesterday, a clergyman was arrested in Port Harcourt for complicity in an armed robbery case. The story has it that one of the armed robbery suspects, who was also arrested, had come to seek redemption and so confessed his sin and consequently handed over his weapon to the pastor as a show of penitence.
That was four years ago. Yesterday, the armed robbery suspect was arrested after leads had been traced to him. During the interrogation, he admitted to the crime. Unfortunately, the weapon was found in the office of clergyman.
A Lagos based lawyer, Nsirim Omuna-Amadi, doesn’t think the pastor can be charged with complicity of the alleged crime. “Well, under canon law, the clergy man has to maintain confidentiality. Even outside common law, such confessions to the clergy cannot amount to a legal confession. This is because confessions to clergymen are usually based on trust and confidentiality,” he said.
Should he have persuaded the suspect to turn himself over to the cops? “It’s not in his place to do so. He is clergy, dealing with spiritual things.”
So does he have a bad case? “Not necessarily. I can’t fathom what charges would be preferred against the man of God except, of course, possession of ammunition.”
However, Nsirim faulted the pastor for keeping the weapon. Illegal possession of firearms is a criminal offense. This mistake has granted the cops enough leverage to charge him with complicity in the crime. But why would a clergyman keep a firearm in his office for up to four years? Only the pastor can answer that.
So, about this repented robber: let’s assume his repentance was genuine, what’s the balance between faith and justice? Nsirim tilted towards justice. “Faith will bring him close to God but justice will facilitate the meeting.” You get the joke, don’t you? He also believes justice would help the clergy, not faith.
In other words, for faith to hold sway, justice must prevail.
After all, God is a God of justice. A verse of the Bible reads, “the just shall live by faith.’