By Ikenna Anyanwu
Police authorities in Imo State are investigating a Roman Catholic priest (names withheld ) for unlawful possession of firearms. The priest, said to be in-charge of one of the prominent Parishes in Dikenafai, Ideato South Local Government area, Imo State, was arrested for allegedly being in possession of three unlicensed guns with which he threatened the lives of his parishioners.
Crime Guard reliably gathered that the guns which include one pump action riffle, one double- barrelled gun and a locally -made pistol allegedly belonging to the priest were recovered from his official residence by operatives of Special Armed Robbery Squad, SARS, Imo State Police Command acting on a tip off from concerned parishioners.
Described as a very controversial priest, the reverend father was arrested and detained briefly but granted bail by the police following the intervention of some influential religious and political leaders in the state.
Police sources intimated that the controversy surrounding the catholic priest stemmed from a tragedy that occurred in January 2010 , after the death of a prominent indigene of the area. The resident priest was said to had raised issues over the burial ceremony which inflamed the natives and they had to lodge formal complaints to the Bishop of the area over the way the priest was allegedly calling people names while conducting services.
According to the source, the matter became worse after armed robbers reportedly attacked the priest in his official residence and he openly accused some prominent citizens of the area of masterminding the robbery.
This, the source continued, made some of them to write a petition to the Commissioner of Police in Imo State accusing the priest of threatening their lives with dangerous weapons. The Police boss swiftly acted on the petition and sent detectives from the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, to the residence of the priest where some weapons were allegedly recovered.
Meanwhile, investigation into the case is ongoing by the police to ascertain the source of the guns and possibly the actual purposes they are being used for. It is believed that the matter will be charged to court after full police investigation had been concluded.
It would be recalled that the police in Imo State under the present Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Katsina had in recent times made remarkable breakthrough in impounding illegal arms and ammunition used by criminal gangs in the state. The latest arrest of a priest marks a new twist in the war against crime in the state, particularly the illegal use of firearms.