Onitsha boils: Security operatives sack worshippers from church service

… Worshippers turn to prayer warriors, accuse govt of complicity

PHIL OKOSE, Onitsha

The Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, Camp at Bishop Ajayi Crowther Primary school, Onitsha, Anambra State, is boiling as all manners of security operatives had in the early morning of Sunday, stormed the place, sacked the Anglican worshippers who came for the Sunday church service and locked the gate.

The Anglican faithful consequently, converged in front of the Vicarage close to the primary school, where they conducted the mass while being monitored by the security operatives that included, police, military, vigilante group and others.As the conduct of the mass lasted, the worshippers turned into prayer warriors praying God to intervene that their property was being taken away from them.

Addressing newsmen shortly after the church service, the Priest in charge (vicar, of the Bishop Ajayi Anglican Church who conducted the mass, Leonard Onwuzuruigbo, said, “we are here to have our normal church service today (Sunday) when the Chairman of Onitsha North Local Government Area, Hon. Patrick Agha Mba and security operatives blocked the gate to the school premises that we will not enter and brought us out saying that Governor Willie Obiano said we will not go into the place to worship. That is why we are outside conducting the mass.”

“Chairman of Onitsha North had earlier displaced us and put IDPs and said we should build a temporary structure for church service and we obeyed and were putting up the structure since he said that the IDPs will be in the classrooms but he later came and ordered that we should stop work and we stopped” he stated.He said: “Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha and the chairman of Anambra State Universal Basic Education Board, ASUBEB, Nze Emeka Olisa came and told us to stay in our normal place and worship that IDPs will be removed and put in another place (hall) we obeyed.

“Then the following day the Chairman of Onitsha North with others, demolished the structure and constructed fence. When we asked the Council chairman what was amiss he said that it was an order from the governor.“What I know is that this place is Bishop Crowther Memorial primary school. Bishop Ajayi Crowther was the founder of Anglican mission on East of the Niger and beyond and for 12 years we have been here worshipping.

“It is because IDPs are asked to be here and we agreed to stay with them that this problem rose. It is like there is an agenda, a script being operated or run from a religious body, catholic mission. They have written it before that they don’t want variant church beside the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity” the Vicar further said.

Also speaking, President of Gideon on the Niger, Hon. Chuba Oranusi, told newsmen that, “we were invited to fellowship with the church but when we got here we found out that the place was under lock and key and that the priests and laity were not allowed to go into where they worship to worship. Faced with this situation we had to stay in the street not only it was under lock and key but as you can see there were trucks load of policemen, Ocha Brigade and they brought in some vigilante and military to booster security presence here.

“As far as I am concerned it is clear intimidation. We have handed over the situation to God; the God we worship is a living God. Even if the state Government is acquiring land, it is acquiring it for the overall interest of the general public but not parochial interest. There is freedom of worship as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. No matter how highly placed no man will stop one from his way of worship.

“Going to court may be one of the options we may consider. Remove rule of law we find tyranny and anarchy, God forbids “, he stated.
As at the time of filing this story the security operatives were seen surrounding the entire place and imposing sign post installed in strategic positions read, “This property belongs to the state Government”.

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