By Sam Eyoboka
FIVE years into the impasse in Ahiara Catholic Diocese over the rejection of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke by indigenous priests and lay members, cracks are beginning to emerge among the ranks of the Nigerian Bishops Council against the resilient Ahiara Mbaise Catholic Diocese.
Such indications emerged on December 1, when the Catholic Bishop of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri, for the first time, broke ranks with his fellow Nigeria Catholic Bishops and urged relevant authorities to “give Ahiara a bishop close to their hearts.”
After over five years of Bishopric quagmire in the Ahiara Catholic Diocese, the brave bishop broke ranks with his colleagues at the all-powerful Nigeria’s Catholic Bishops Council, to support the embattled Ahiara Diocese, who had rejected a bishop posted to them—for violation of due process.
In a statement personally signed by him, Most Rev Joseph Bagobiri, at the occasion of the silver jubilee celebration of Revenge.
He said: “The crisis that ensued with the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpalaeke as the second bishop of the diocese of Ahiara to succeed late Bishop Victor Chikwe has lingered on now for about five years.
“This could have been avoided or resolved if CBCN had been courageous enough to follow truth and justice, by listening to the aggrieved party and presenting their case positively or in an empathetic manner as a united force to Rome.”
“When we were one year into this crisis, to be precise, at the second plenary assemble that took place at Otukpo, it was advised that insisting on the option of COMMANDING OBEDIENCE from the Mbaise faithful of Ahiara Diocese as against seeking to constructively engage them in dialogue with a view to striking some fair and reasonable compromises as was the case with Warri Diocese, will not solve this problem.”