Imo Police Commissioner Orders Arrest of Priests, Closure of Cathedral
The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu, has ordered the arrest of four priests and closure of the Catholic cathedral in Ahiara, Mbaise, Imo State
This followed a violent protest over who should be the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of the area.
Also arrested were eight youths who were suspected to have participated in the shooting of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), of Ahiazu division, Danjuma Ragga, a Superintendent of Police (SP).
Ragga, is currently recuperating in an undisclosed hospital following wounds he sustained from gun shots said to have been fired from the cathedral when the SP led a team of police men to restore law and order in the area.
There had been protests in the diocese for about three years following the appointment of Bishop Peter Opkaleke, by Pope Francis, as the bishop of the diocese. They are insisting that a priest from the area should mount the saddle and not Opkaleke, who hails from Anambra State.
Because of the insistence, The Guardian gathered that a Vicar General, Rev. Fr. Clement Ebi, was appointed to function in the diocese as a bishop, pending the resolution.
The latest crisis erupted when the Vicar General wanted to host the Catholic Women Organization of the diocese at St. Roses Catholic Church, Ezinihitte, on Saturday. The youths, in their numbers came and barricaded the streets and Cathedral, setting fire and carrying leaves and placards and resisted the event from holding.
A statement issued yesterday, in Owerri, and signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Andrew Enwerem, a Superintendent of Police, Lakanu, said he was determined to restore peace and order, warning the perpetrators of the violence.
The statement reads: “Twelve suspects, including four Rev. Fathers, were eventually arrested and are been interrogated. All those involved in the shooting of the DPO will be fished out and prosecuted. The Commissioner of police has therefore, ordered the Cathedral to remain under lock and key to avoid further violence.”
According to the CP, the protesters had defied all attempts made by the police to restore peace, alleging that the youths, led by a priest Rev. Fr. John Ogoekwe, of the CKC, Uvuru, Aboh Mbaise, who choose to disrupt peace in the area, leading to the shooting of Ragga, on both legs and hand.
Source: The Guardian