A political structure campaigning for a governorship candidate in the 2019 gubernatorial election, yesterday reportedly attacked a popular Catholic Archbishop, during a church event.
Pandemonium reportedly broke out on Saturday at St. Micheals Catholic Church, Ngwoma, Owerri North LGA of Imo State during the burial of Late Mrs Mbata, mother of the Pro-Chancellor of Imo State University, Owerri, Chief Alex Mbata.
Multiple online reports claim that the leadership of Ugwumba Movement, a political structure campaigning for the 2019 Governorship ambition of Imo State Governor's son-in-law, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu led by Jeff Nwaoha, Chairman Imo State ENTRACO, yesterday reportedly attacked a popular Catholic Archbishop, AJV Obinna during the church event.
It was gathered that the Archbishop AJV Obinna escaped the attack with the help of Catholic Priests, Knights of the Catholic Church and Christian fathers, who barricaded and shielded the Archbishop from being beating up, after rain of abuse and insults to the Archbishop by the alleged attacker.
The Chief mourner, Sir Alex Mbata, the Pro-Chancellor of Imo State University was shocked watching Imo State Chief of Staff, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu and the wife of the governor, Nneoma Nkechi Rochas Okorocha seating in church front row watching their supporters abuse the most revered Catholic Archbishop, desecrating both the alter of God and the dead body of his late mother without calling them to order, according to a report by Ifeanyi Cy Njoku.
According to Ifeanyi Cy Njoku, the problem allegedly started when the Catholic Archdiocese, during commendation service admonished people to go out and get their permanent Voters Card (PVC) and vote wisely in the 2019 general election.
He complained about bad roads in the state insisting that despite the ministry of happiness Imolites cannot be happy with bad road. An APC chieftain reportedly took microphone from him to defend the government. A PDP follower also came and called for change from APC misrule.
It was at that point Jeff and his thugs rushed to the alter to take the microphone from the Archbishop who withdrew to his seat and priests and Christian fathers struggled to keep them out.
Uche Nwosu and Nkechi Okorocha sat there watching the spectacle without stopping Jeff as Jeff pointed at Archbishop in the face and rained insults on him as the service went on.
According to a new report by The Nation, the outspoken cleric and Archbishop of Owerri Catholic Diocese, came under severe criticism for openly canvassing support for one of the political parties during the live service.
The Archbishop reportedly drew the ire of the congregation when he digressed from his sermon during the burial mass at the St. Michael Catholic Church Ngwoma-Obube in Owerri North Council Area of the state and accused the state governor, Rochas Okorocha and the All Progressives Congress (APC) for reducing the state to a laughing stock.
The cleric was further quoted by eyewitnesses to have urged the people to ensure that the APC does not return to power in the state, adding that the party has failed the people.
According to an eyewitness, “the service was going on smoothly when the Archbishop suddenly asked those that have Permanent Voters Card (PVC) to raise up their hands.
"After that, he said that all those that were yet to get their PVC should do so and ensure that they vote out the APC and bring in another party because the people are not happy with the bad roads in the state, even though the government has created the Ministry of Happiness”.
The source continued that, “the Archbishop again asked the congregation if they will allow the APC to continue by allowing the governor to impose a governor on the state. At this point, a Chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), walked up to the pulpit and was given the microphone by the Archbishop. He then started shouting that the APC has killed the state, that the APC will never come back to the state.
“At that point an APC Chieftain also came out and collected the microphone and told the congregation that the people are happy with the APC and the state governor at that point there was stampede at the pulpit as supporters of the different political parties present at service started scrambling for the microphone”.
Meanwhile, the wife of the State governor, Nkechi Rochas Okorocha, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Acho Ihim and the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Uche Nwosu and other top government functionaries were seated quietly at the front row.
Another member of the congregation, Simeon Okokwe, said that the situation almost degenerated into bloody clash if not for the maturity displayed by the government officials at the event.
He blamed the Archbishop for turning a Requiem Mass to a political campaign, noting that “he should have exploited better avenues to correct the government in the areas he felt it is not done well than his open show of partisanship”.
Also commenting on the incident, Charles Amadi, stated that, “the manner the Archbishop is getting involved in partisan politics is becoming worrisome. As a revered cleric, he should see everyone, irrespective of political party as his children.
"He should advice all the politicians, especially those occupying public office without fear or bias. But the idea of taking advantage of every religious gathering to support one political party or politician against the other is highly condemnable”.
Meanwhile, supporters of the PDP had accused APC supporters of attacking the Archbishop for merely criticizing their party and the governor over the failure of his administration meet the aspirations of the people of the state.
They described the action as “desperation taken too far”, urging the people to vote out the party in 2019.