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Anambra Catholic Church crisis messy, as Bishop orders thugs to wade in

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Crisis rocking the Ihiala Catholic Community and the Holy Ghost priests of St. Martin of Tours Parish Ihiala in Anambra State did not only deepened penultimate weekend, but assumed a messy dimension as thugs have waded in.

Eye witness said heavily armed men in black clothes suspected to be thugs on Thursday stormed the church premises at the instance of the bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Jonas Benson Okoye, and disarmed the parish security men, tied them, and forcefully dispossessed them of their phones, and had the whole church ground locked down.

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Some parishioners who were in the Church premises in the evening hours when the armed came were alarmed with everyone struggling to escape.

Bishop Okoye had earlier ordered the Holy Ghost priest to vacate the parish house before Friday 18th November, but which the embattled priest failed to do so.

Confirming the incident, the Parish Priest of St. Martin of Tours, Very Rev. Fr. Valentine Eze, said the armed thugs were in the Church premises through the night.

He added that parishioners who later came for Friday prayers were not allowed by the armed thugs.

He said they have to rally round respected personalities to douse the tension, and prevent a bloody showdown.

Meanwhile, no sooner that the said armed men left the church premises than diocesan priests, in a convoy of 12 vehicles, stormed the parish house, apparently to eject the Holy Ghost priests, and subsequently take over the parish house.

The priests met hot resistance, as the rather angry worshipers drove them out of the church premises.

The ensuring drama and altercation forced the teachers and pupils of CWO Nursery and Primary School in the parish house to close abruptly at about 9:30 am, and ran away for their lives.

Spokesperson of the parishioners, who refused to mention his name, said that the diocesan bishop, Most Rev Jonas-Benson Okoye, had asked the Holy Ghost priests, who were believed to be founders of the parish church, to leave, and find any other place for themselves.

According to him, the bishop sent a diocesan priest, Rev. Fr. Augustine Ndukaji, to take over as the parish of St. Martin of Tours.

According to him, the bishop’s directive did not go down well with the worshipers and people of the community, who held that it would be wrong for the bishop to pursue the Holy Ghost priests, who they said, built the parish church, and brought a lot of development to the town.

“The Holy Ghost priests were the first set of priests to come to Ihiala. They built St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Ihiala, which is the mother of all other parishes in Ihiala. They built Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital; they built the Holy Ghost Juniorate Seminary; as well as many schools in the community.

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