By Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—Scores of Owerri indigenes and their friends, yesterday, worshipped at Maria Assumpta Catholic Cathedral, Owerri, in supplication to God over the destruction of their ancestral market by Imo State Government.
Also high on the people’s supplication was the repose of the soul of 10 year-old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who died during the destruction of Ekeukwu market.
Preaching the homily during the Pontifical song mass, the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri Ecclesiastical Province, Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, described the destruction of the market and death of Somtochukwu, as provocative and condemnable.
“The destruction of the market is provocative, especially as a court of competent jurisdiction had issued a restraining order. The little boy’s death is condemnable. Life is inalienable and very precious and should not be wasted at will by anybody, group or government,” Archbishop Obinna said.
While asking why we should be scampering into safety in our own land, the cleric also said: “This is the first time I am seeing this horrible thing since the end of the Nigeria/Biafra war.”
He recalled with grief that the degree of gunshots he heard on that Saturday morning was not only akin to a war situation, but amply sent a message that there was trouble in Owerri.
“I have been variously abused and called all manner of names in the past. I was issued a query by Col. Tanko Zubairu administration. I defied responding to the query and dared the consequences. So many horrible things are still happening in a democracy. I am still expecting more bashing because I won’t stop talking about the evils in this land,” Obinna said.
The cleric, who opined that “we have structural dislocation in Imo State,” also called for “well thought out programmes and not impressionistic development that will not take the state and citizenry anywhere.”
He narrated his near ugly experience when he paid a pastoral visit to Okolochi and Emeabiam, stressing that the people in those communities have virtually been abandoned.
“The road to Okolochi and Emeabiam is terrible. There are lots of places in the hinterlands that need urgent attention. All the impressionistic development in Owerri could be reduced in the interest of the rural areas,” Archbishop Obinna said.
He commended Imo people for seeking God’s intervention and blessings instead of adopting self-help in the circumstance, stressing that “we must reclaim Imo State for God.”