By CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI— Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, has denied ever receiving N250 million from Imo State government for distribution to Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta youths.
Archbishop Obinna, who was reacting, in Owerri, to a recent government statement that appointed him chairman of a committee that would disburse the money to youths of oil producing communities, also explained that his clerical duties did not include disbursement of government money.
Dr. Obinna said: “I want to state clearly that I did not touch the N250 million. I did not accept the offer and it is not my duty to distribute money to Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta youths.”
The Catholic cleric wondered why the state government went ahead to announce his name, even after he warned them against it before travelling overseas.
He said: “It is a matter for regret that despite my warning, the government still went ahead to announce my name as the chairman of the committee that would distribute the purported N250 million to youths.”
Apart from saying that his mentor, late Bishop Mark Unaegbu, warned him against accepting such appointments, Obinna also explained that he is not a local government functionary.
He added: “I am not a local government agent and not in any position to distribute money meant for the youths in the areas mentioned by the state government.”
He further explained that when he got wind of the planned appointment, he quickly advised the administration against it because he was not interested in any such thing.
Continuing, Archbishop Obinna said: “Under normal situation, government has a duty to give subventions to the church to support mission work in schools, hospitals and some other projects. The money is public money and not governor’s money.”
Obinna stressed that he had been very careful in his relationship with the state government as 2015 approach.
Reacting to the directive by Governor Rochas Okorocha that Imo people should pause at 12 noon to say the Angelus, Archbishop Obinna cautioned against politicization of the Catholic prayers in the state.
The Archbishop said: “Government must be told in very clear terms that prayers like the Angelus is not part of government business. Catholics in politics, especially those who work against the church, are expected to do the will of God and not the will of the president, governor or commissioner.”