OWERRI—Churches in Imo State are facing hard times, following the new wave of armed robbery incidents in the state.

It was learned that about three churches have so far been robbed by the criminals in the last two weeks, as some of the churches attacked in Mbano local government area of the state include St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Osu, St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Umuezeala-ama, and the Cathedral Church of Christ (Diocese of Okigwe North), Ezihe.

The churches were said to have lost valuables, personal effects and offerings, which a victim and parish priest of St. Paul’s, Osu, Monsignor Eugene Onuoha, described as a horrendous experience.

The robbers came to his parish house around 3.30 am on Monday, August 19, 2013.

He said the robbers, who stormed the parish house at about 3:30am on Monday, August 19, 2013, told him to relax and that they did not come to harm or kill anyone in the parish house, but to ‘find something to eat’.

Thereafter, the priest said they ransacked the place and made away with all the money in his possession including Sunday Mass offering, Pontifical collection, phones, laptop computers, etc.

His curate, Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Nnebedum, said he was not spared as he was dispossed of money, electronic gadgets and other valuables.

Strangely, the priest disclosed that before the marauders made to leave around 4.15am after their business, they requested him to pray for and bless them, a request he said he granted, describing the experience as shocking.

A week before the incident, it was also learnt that the robbers had visited St. Paul’s Umuezeala-ama, where the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Christopher Chukwuma was quoted by The Sage(Okigwe Catholic Newspaper) as saying that the robbers numbering about eight came with a Hummer bus.

The non-hostile robbers, according to the priest, were fully armed with pump action rifles, pistols, and big iron cutter with which they broke the doors to the rectory, and dispossed him and his curate, Rev. Fr. Celestine Okezie of laptop and desktop computers, microwave machine, undisclosed amount of money including Sunday Mass collection and other valuables.

At the Cathedral Church of Christ, the details of the incident were sketchy.

While some worshippers said that the bandits robbed the bishop of the diocese, others said it was the priest in charge of the church that was robbed.

Meanwhile, the robbers went on to rob Rega Hotel located beside the Cathedral.

Efforts made to contact the state PPRO, DSP Joy Elemoko for comments did not yield any result as she did not pick her phone as at press time.

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