Catholic Priest’s Diplomacy Saves Members From IPOB’s Wrath In Onitsha

Michael Chukwuebuka, Reporting

A Catholic priest’s diplomatic response on Tuesday saved members of his parish from the rampaging suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB), on Tuesday, in the commercial nerve centre of Anambra State.

The suspected IPOB members had invaded a Catholic Church in Onitsha to distrupt the morning Mass for alleged violation of the IPOB sit-at-home order.

A worshiper in the church, who recounted her experiences to journalists, said the suspects were armed with weapons including clubs and fuel.

The source said they invaded the church while the morning mass was on.

According to the worshipper, the rampaging boys insisted to know from the presiding priest why he was holding a mass on a day their leader, Nnamdi Kanu was to appear in court.

It was gathered that worshippers almost experienced a stampede as everyone headed for the door, in an attempt to escape for their lives.

The angry youths, however, engaged the priest, who was said to have used diplomacy to disarm them, causing them to beat a retreat.

The suspected IPOB members also burnt a tricycle which they found on the road, while beating its driver to a pulp.

The source who didn’t want her name disclosed recounted her experience: “This morning I went for the 5:30a.m morning mass in my church, St Theresa of Kalkuta Parish in Awada, it is close to Ukaegbu junction, Onitsha.

“We were half way into the mass when some group of boys suspected to be members of IPOB entered the church.

“They were carrying sticks and even fuel. They went straight to the altar and were almost half way there.

“They approached our parish priest, Rev Fr Joseph and asked him why he was celebrating mass on a day when their master was going to court.

“They were quite a number of them and were visibly angry.

“Everybody in the church took to their heels. There would have been a stampede because there were a lot of people in the mass today. I ran to a building close to the church.

“Father Joseph told them we were holding mass today to pray for the release of Nnamdi Kanu.

“He used diplomacy to talk to them, and even asked them if they were really for Ndi Igbo or against Ndi Igbo?

“They now said okay, that if so, the people in the church were for them.

“They now called back everyone to continue the mass that they were now convinced that the church people were Biafrans.

“Some of us were so afraid that we could not return, so we went home from there. They apologized to the priest and left.

“The same group went out and saw a tricycle rider. No one knows why the man was outside because on sit-at-home days, you hardly find tricycles outside.

“They beat up the man and burnt his tricycle, and the tricycle is still there now emitting smoke,” the source said.

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