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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Awba-Ofemili: Christians vs Pagans, 20 critically injured

NaijaAgroNet:

News reaching us shows that there was blood letting in the sleeping town of Awba-Ofemili in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State, following a clash between Christians and touts who claimed to be pagans in the town reputed for its ‘Awba-Ofemili rice.’

NaijaAgroNet gathered that not less than 20 Christians were heavily injured with matchet cuts during a Christian vigil crusade held inside St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Awba-Ofemili, even as this may not be unconnected to 2012 flood largesse, which petition is before the Anambra State government and was jointly signed by Rev. Fr. Emma Ezenwata and Rev. Patrick Odinanwa.

Also, St. Paul’s Catholic Church was not left out as its roof was said to have been perforated with gun bullets by these touts who claim to be pagans as well as the Parish House recently completed by the Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), while the Rice Mill, also owned by CWO was burnt down alongside some bags of rice awaiting milling.

Another source in the town told NaijaAgroNet that a day before, that is Sunday night, there was some skirmishes of threats in the town, culminating in the attack of St. Paul’s Anglican Church by same group of people, who claimed that they were observing ‘Obia-na-uchichi’ that is night masquerade season.

It was gathered in good authority that these hoodlums carted away the generating set that supplied electricity to the church, venue of the vigil on Sunday night.

Further sources from the town pointed accusing figures to the leadership of the town, under a regent Chief 
Benard Nwanelo and vigilante group, who up till the time of this report has not made any arrest. Efforts to get the side of Chief Nwanelo at the time of filing this report was not successful as his mobile phone was said to be switched off.

According to the Parish Priest of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Awba-Ofemili, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel  Ezenwata, who was out of town at the time of this incident, the pagans in the town burnt church building, blustered the roofs and ceilings of new Fathers’ House and destroyed building of some Christians in the town.

A source, who pleaded for anonymity said that the wind of the crisis was very evident during last weekend, leading to summon of the church leaders and those claiming traditionalists in preparation for the annual ceremony which last for about a week, and which forbids women from being outside from about 6pm and restricts movement likewise, except for the initiates.

“Despite the insistence of both parties to shed their swords, the town regent did not involve the Police, knowingly fully well that the security of the town was under threat,” our source alleged.

The catechist of St. Paul’s Anglican Church Awba-Ofemili, was said to be the most injured with several matchet cuts among 20 members of the Christendom attending the vigil, while the priest in-charge, Rev. Patrick Odinanwa, escaped through the nearby bush.

Unfortunately, the two medical centres in the town were reported to have since stopped working and the nearest is located at Ebenebe, near Amansea with poor road network.

“This could lead in deaths due to uncontrolled bleeding by the injured,” our source lamented.
Confirming this to NaijaAgroNet, President General, Awba-Ofemili Development Union (ADU), Mr. Chukwuma Nwabufo told correspondent, he was on his way to the town, decrying the incident, adding that the town has been very accommodative to any religion and did not understand why there should be a fracas this time around, even as he appealed for calm.

He has also reached out to the Divisional Police Officer in Ugbene, a neighbouring town on the matter, among the state apparatus.

Meanwhile, NaijaAgroNet recalls that a few weeks ago, both priests, Rev. Fr. Ezenwata and Rev. Odinanwa jointed petitioned the Anambra State government over the misappropriation of the N3 million meant for flood victims in the town last year.

The petition addressed to the Secretary to the Anambra State Government and Chairman, Committee on Flooding Anambra State, indicted some key members of the town union in collaboration with the town’s Regent, the Onosolu Eze, Chief Nwanelo, for allegedly connived with each other to divert the said fund.

NaijaAgroNet further learnt that following the intervention of one of its sons, Mr. Sabastine Okoye, who is the current Commissioner for Environment, the matter was withdrawn to be settled at home.


The joint petition which was also sent to the Governor Anambra State, had the Catholic Bishop of Awka and his Anglican counterpart, as well as the Transition Chairman, Awka – North L.G.A, the Regent and ADU president general, all in copy.

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