*As Catholic Church bans women handbags
By Tony Edike
ENUGU—AS part of efforts to forestall attack on the church by Boko Haram insurgents who are feared to have invaded the South Eastern states, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, conducted thorough screening of its members before allowing them into the Sunday services.
The church also banned women from entering with hand-bags as part of the security measures.
Some Pentecostal churches within Enugu have also procured bomb detecting equipment with which they screened vehicles driven by worshippers into the premises of the churches within the state capital. Some churches have constructed iron barricades to prevent insurgents from hitting the church buildings with their vehicles.
The extra security measures by the churches, according to the church leaders, came on the heels of the recent discovery of two bombs in the Winners’ Chapel in Owerri, Imo State, which were diffused by police bomb experts.
The arrest of more than 400 insurgents at Aba, Abia State, by soldiers who alleged that two other buses containing suspected insurgents that fateful night successfully escaped has further increased the anxiety among the people of the South East over the presence of insurgents in the zone.
The Bishop of Enugu Catholic Diocese, Rt. Rev. Calistus Onaga, was said to have directed all parish priests within the Diocese to make the official announcement regarding the ban on female worshippers coming into the churches with handbag, during Sunday services
The bishop, who appealed to the church members to cooperate with the ushers and security men charged with maintaining security in the churches, explained that the exercise was not meant to embarrass the women or anybody, but borne out of the present disturbing insecurity challenges facing the nation.
He assured that the security measures would be carried out with human face,and in a civilised manner, adding that the church did not want to take chances.
A worshipper who do not want his name in print said, “I must tell you, the Bishop and entire Catholic faithful in Enugu, are apprehensive with the rumour of the insurgents infiltrating the east, especially the alleged recent escape of two buses conveying Boko Haram members in Abia state, during a security check.
“I support the development that henceforth, women will no longer be allowed to enter Catholic churches during masses with hand bags, apart from their purses, which will also be subjected to thorough scrutiny by church workers.
“Before today’s announcement was made, our Bishop had already briefed all the parish priests under the Diocese, so that they can take the message down to their various parishes.
“Though, we known that if God did not guard a city, guard men will be guarding in vein; but there is also need for us as human beings to play our own part, while God plays his own part”.
It was also observed in some of the Pentecostal churches within Enugu capital visited yesterday that the worshippers were subjected to thorough security screening by the internal security men of the churches while some churches were being guarded by armed policemen.
Both cars and handbags were searched to ensure that no bomb was smuggled into the church while the premises were patrolled regularly to forestall attacks by insurgents who might target the places of worship.