…Bar him from Cathedral, want him to vacate Bishop’s house
By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—ALL is not well with the Christ Church Cathedral [Anglican Communion] Akwete, Ukwa Diocese, Ukwa East Council of Abia State. The church is presently engrossed in serious crisis which pitched members against the Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Rev. Samuel Kelechi Eze. The crisis is rocking the very foundation of the church as the parishioners are up in arms against the Bishop. In fact, they have banned him from conducting church services or even administering the church. They are also pushing for him to vacate the Bishop’s House, his official residence.
Bone of contention
The problem is that members of the church are accusing Bishop Eze of some wrong doings; particularly, they accused him of being a polygamist; that he has two wives who live with him in the Bishop’s Court. Other wrong doings border on maladministration of the church as well as not taking proper care of the priests working under him in the church. The matter has degenerated to the extent that the attention of the head of Anglican Church in Nigeria, the Primate, The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh has been drawn to it. Indeed, the situation has got to the level that the Laity of Ukwa Diocese organised a protest against the Bishop.
Worried by the happenings in the church, some members wrote a petition to the Primate, urging him to intervene in the matter. In the petition dated October 17, 2017 entitled: Urgent need to intervene and save the Cathedral Church of Christ, Akwete from certain doom, the members in addition to accusing Bishop Eze of practising polygamy, alleged that he dissolved the Church Committee duly elected and set up a seven-member caretaker committee; that he runs the Cathedral purse with a priest who has been transferred out of the Cathedral for eight years and that the Bishop demoted and transferred the church’s resident canon.
Besides the petition, a three-man delegation of the Church, led by an elder and the 18th President-General of Joint Council of Knights, Anglican Communion, Chief Okere Eruba, to the Primate to show the seriousness of the crisis.
Bishop Eze reacts
Bishop Eze, however, denied all the allegations. He said all the allegations against him were trash, borne out of tribalism and selfish desires. He wondered how a Bishop would marry two wives. He said that the matter is being handled by the Primate and warned that it is an issue that could lead to serious litigation. He accused the Archbishop of the Province of Aba, Dr. Ikechi Nwosu of being the mastermind of his travails.
Bishop Eze who replied to a text message sent to him, said he was out of the country and would talk more when he returned. “How can a Bishop marry two wives”, Eze queried.
His text reads: “This is a matter that the head of our church, the Primate, is handling and one that could lead to serious litigation. Everything they’re talking is trash, borne out of tribalism and selfish desires and masterminded by the Archbishop. How can a Bishop marry two wives? I’m out of the country now but will soon be back. I will like to have a word with you when I am back. God bless you. Bishop Eze.”
Responding to the petition, the Primate mandated the Aba Provincial Bishops under the leadership of the Archbishop, Most Rev. Ikechi Nwosu, to investigate the allegations against Bishop Eze. A total of seven Bishops from the province joined the Archbishop in the panel. They were said to have sat four times during which they interviewed Bishop Eze, the Ukwa Diocesan Board, the aggrieved church members as well undertook independent investigations.
Report and white paper
Based on their findings, in their report to the Primate, the Provincial Bishops observed among other things that Bishop Eze was “not quite willing to give us adequate information needed; the Bishop and his wife have no cordial relationship and team work; there are administrative lapses between the Bishop and the wife; there is weakness in financial accountability and probity; there is lack of grip in women’s ministries; Bishop Eze did not define his relationship with Gladys Chinazaekpere Nwosu; the Bishop is not completely in control of the Diocese.”
In a white paper issued from the report and signed by the Primate, Nicholas Okoh, he upheld the recommendations and Bishop Eze was among other things asked: “to be humble enough to own up to the depth of the relationship between him and Miss Gladys Chinazaekpere Nwosu, admit his fault and genuinely repent and reconcile with God; that the Bishop should apologise and seek to be with the people of the Cathedral and other aggrieved parties if any; the Bishop should severe such relationship with Miss Gladys or any other woman that arouses any form of suspicion whatsoever; that the accounts of the Cathedral are to henceforth be operated in line with the Diocesan Constriction”, among others.
But the Laity of Ukwa Diocese and members of the Church are not happy that the primate has not been able to carry out the recommendations he upheld since January, insisting that nothing has changed. To further show their grievance, they held a protest march in Akwete urging the Primate to remove the Bishop and sanitise the church.
During the protest, they displayed various placards, some with inscriptions such as: Primate, Holy Bible must always be upheld, otherwise we are hypocrites of the gospel. Ukwa Diocese, we say Primate dismiss Rt. Rev. Kelechi Eze from Christ Church, he has pollutaed the Diocese with sin of sexual immorality. Rt. Rev. Samuel Kelechi Eze is keeping two  women under his roof as wives. The Diocese is saying no to that act. Therefore, he should leave Ukwa Diocese. Primate, Anglican Communion, the soul that sinneth shall die. Bishop Eze of Ukwa Diocese has broken his canonical oath and he should be removed, among others.
The coming days will determine the future of Ukwa Diocese.