By Nwabueze Okonkwo
ONITSHA—The lingering crisis between Nkwelle-Ezunaka in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State and worshippers of Ebenezer Anglican Church Oyolu-Oze in the area deepened yesterday, with the destruction of an on-going building project by the Anglican community inside the school premises.
The building, which was at its roofing stage, was reduced to rubbles at about 12 midnignt on Monday by unknown persons.
The demolition which was, according to a source, executed with a bulldozer, left the building completely pulled down from its foundation.
Crisis had ensued between the community and the Anglican church members about two months ago when the roofs of the school premises in the church compound was removed for purposes of renovation by a contractor engaged by the state Urban Development Board, ASUDEB, in collaboration with the community.
Following a protest by the worshippers over the removal of the roofs, the community became infuriated and its President-General, Elder Chris Eluemuno, announced the ejection of the worshippers from the school premises and suspension of all religious activities in the premises.
Eluemuno contended that the school was built by the community single-handedly and handed over to the state government for academic activities in the late 80s.
Eluemuno who is also the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State chapter, added that in 1990, the Anglican church approached the community to allow it carry out religious activities at the school compound which the community obliged at a monthly rent of N20 and wondered why the church was now laying claims to ownership of the school premises.
Speaking to newsmen at the school/church premises yesterday, the Anglican Archdeacon in charge of the church building project, Venerable Frank Obi, accused the community leaders of being responsible for such a dastardly act in a house of God.
Venerable Obi recalled that during last Monday’s meeting among the community, police and leaders of the church at the Police Area Command Headquarters, Onitsha to broker peace, a member of the community allegedly boasted that the church building would not take him anything to demolish.
Also contributing, Venerable Joseph Nweke, the Archdeacon of Oyi Archdeaconry and Director of Society for Equity, Justice and Peace, SEJUP, Anglican Diocese on the Niger, declared: “The destruction of the church by unknown persons likely to be Elder Chris Eluemuno, the President-General of Nkwelle-Ezunaka who boasted recently at the graduation ceremony of Oyolu-Oze Primary School pupils is condemnable.
“The edict made by Anambra State Government and assented to by Governor Peter Obi transferring the school to the Anglican church has not been repealed and therefore it is clear that the state government cannot be lawless to destroy properties belonging to any church.
“Nkwelle-Ezunaka was once at war with the Anglican community which was settled in then 1980s and any attempt by the present P-G to revisit that traumatic experience must be avoided.
”I therefore call on the state government to look into the excesses of Eluemuno to avoid anarchy in the state.”