February 6, 2020

Shootings rock Diocese of Mbamili Cathedral Church

Gunmen storm military camp in Niger, kill soldiers, abduct 10, burn vehicles

…Youths disrupt ongoing cathedral building project

…As Bishop sends SOS to IGP, others

There were sporadic shootings, Tuesday night, at Cathedral Church of St Michaels, Umuikwu Anam, Anambra West Local Government, Anambea State, by some hoodlums who went to pull down the ongoing cathedral building of Diocese of Mbamili.

Addressing newsmen, yesterday, at Cathedral Church of St Michaels, Umuikwu Anam, the Bishop, Diocese of Mbamili, Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke  sent a save-our-soul message to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and other law enforcement agents to save his life and that of his family, his priests and lives of  church members from the community who are constantly being threatened by the hoodlums.

How the situation started

According to Okeke, our problem with the miscreants who are also from Umuikwu Anam started in 2018, when we wanted to fence off the cathedral and subsequently, commence  the construction of the cathedral building. The miscreants pulled it down twice and prevented us from fencing it.

“However, the question we keep asking them is: who owns the land if we cannot build on the land already housing our temporary cathedral and mother buildings in the cathedral?

“The compound housing the cathedral also houses Crowther Memorial College, Tabitha House Women Skill Acquisition Centre School and other buildings, including the priests of the church.

“Over the years, the church allowed the community  to use the field to do their trainings and other activities and now that we want to extend our developmental projects, they are preventing us. This is baffling.

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“The land belongs to the church, well gazetted with complete documents. We do not understand why these miscreants are preventing us from carrying out our projects.

“The youths said they do not want Anglican Church in Umuikwu Anam and they have been disrupting the activities of the church.

“On December 22 to 25, 2019, they disrupted many church activities, including a crusade, by putting off our lights, saying their masquerade was coming out. We did not disturb them  along the roads, we were holding our programmes in our premises.

“Tuesday night, about 10 pm, we started hearing gun shots resulting from their sporadic shootings while pulling down the ongoing cathedral building project. They were threatening and shouting on top  of  their voices that anybody, including the Bishop that comes out, will be shot.

“The Primate came and laid the foundation stone of the Cathedral building on 8th December 2018 and as you can see, they have pulled down some parts and destroyed the irons.

“They have done so many things to threaten lives here but God had been keeping us. Last year, we were with the former Commissioner of Police for about three or four times over similar destructive activities of the miscreants.We have also written to the governor and the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Umuahia.They all  know what is happening.

“We  do not want to take laws into our hands or resort to self help. In fact, the youths of our church are a set I have never met  anywhere because of their obedience to the rule of law. If it is in other places, you would have been hearing something else.”

Umuikwu Anam monarch reacts

However, when newsmen went to the house of the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Ben Nworji Onyeke, to know his position on the matter, he said the four quarters of Umuikwu Anam community gave the land to the church and the land is not in contention with anybody, adding that  the activities of the youths is bringing bad name to the community.

Asked what his position is about the disruption of construction activities in the cathedral, particularly the ongoing construction of the cathedral, he said: “the community gave the land to the church but the community will decide if the cathedral will be built or not.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, for the state, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, did not pick his call when Vanguard called his mobile phone.