The feud between Catholic Priests and the Diocese of Nnewi, has taken a new dimension after 12 priests stormed the church for forceful takeover.
The attempted forceful takeover occurred few hours security operatives invaded the premises.
The 12 parish priests in Ihiala Episcopal Region on Friday evening drove in convoy to St Martin of Tours Parish, Ihiala for forceful takeover of the church.
The Nation, however, gathered they were stopped by the parishioners who laid siege and rounded up Anambra Vigilante Group operations who stormed the church on Thursday night.
An eyewitness said the 12 priests drove in a commando manner into the church but were stopped by the parishioners who had been keeping vigil in the church premises.
A source said: “When they were stopped, the 12 priests went to the nearby Mary the Queen church where the armed men relocated to.
“The Divisional Police Officer, DPO, for Ihiala later came to the church and, after meeting with the parish priest, went to Mary the Queen where he also met some soldiers and told them that the matter was purely religious and thereafter advised them to leave, and they did.”
The Nnewi Diocese on Friday reacted to the incident, describing it as false alarm against the Diocese and the Bishop.
In a statement by the Chancellor of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Raphael Ezeogu, the church said: “I have been directed by the Diocesan Bishop, Most Rev. Jonas Benson Okoye, to alert all our priests on the texts flying around in the media against Nnewi Diocese and the Chief Shepherd.
“For record purposes, the State Security men sent to Ihiala, by the Diocese are there just to protect Church property, especially the Blessed Sacrament, given the current spate of desecration of the Sanctissimum.
“The SSA got express briefing from His Lordship never to release any gunshot, nor teargas anybody.They were not to touch the priests at all.
“The truth is that any sincere priest on ground Church premises, who feels insecure, alarms first the Bishop and not thugs.
“Our Bishop empowers each and everyone of us to debunk these falsehood with the truth, all in charity, to avoid appearing degenerate like some of them disobeying legitimately constituted Church authority.
“Prayers are that Priests and Religious might remain obedient and truthful.”
A spokesman of the parish,who does not want his name mentioned, said they wondered why the Diocese should send armed men to settle church quarrels.
The source said: “Which church property were they deployed to protect? For the past seven weeks since the Bishop withdrew the Faculty of the Holy Ghost Priests in residence, has there been any recorded case of robbery anywhere in the parish premises?.
“If they came to protect the church property, how come they tied parish security personnel and their phones taken away?”
Anambra Police spokesman Ikenga Tochukwu, said the Command had sent security operatives to the area to stop any possible breakdown of law and order.
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