The last may not have been heard about the crisis rocking the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara Mbaise in Imo State as pro-Bishop Okpalaeke and anti-Okpalaeke priests fought to the finish at St. Brigit?s Catholic Parish, Nnarambia, soaking themselves in their own blood and vandalizing several properties of the parish.
According to an eye witness account, the fight broke out?Sunday?evening when Rev. Fr. Januarius Chima Ahaneku, posted to the parish, came to take over, but the out-going priest, Rev. Fr. Marcelinus Nweke and his assistant, Rev. Fr. Chamberline Irozuru resisted him.
Fr. Ahaneku and Fr. Nweke and his assistant are pro and anti Bishop Okalaeke priests respectively.
The eyewitness told our reporter that Fr. Aheneku arrived the parish with some youths from his former parish while Fr. Nweke invited some thugs to confront them, and terming them hoodlums and criminals.
In the ensuing melee, the source said, the two groups descended on each other and suddenly, arms and amunitions flew from nowhere and the visitors were severely brutalized.
Fr. Nweke,?, quickly alerted the officers from the Ahiazu police division who came and arrested the visitors, describing them as armed thugs.
All efforts made to reach the priests involved for comments could not yield any results. But according to police reports obtained by our source, Fr. Nweke and Fr. Chamberline Irozuru, stated that Fr. Ahaneku invaded his parish with some thugs who were with weapons loaded guns,strong iron bars and shockers in their two cars.
Fr. Nweke alleged that Fr. Ahaneku and his thugs had him beaten up and breaking his arm for resisting them entrance into the parish house.
However, a parishioner told our reporter that Fr. Ahaneku was only coming to take over officially after notifying Fr. Nweke of his posting to the parish, but Fr. Nweke in collaboration with other anti- Bishop Okpalaeke priests decided to frame them up as people causing problem.
The reason for this, he said, is because the anti-Okpalaeke priests who are in majority are feeling sidelined from the scheme of things in the diocese as they are grumbling that the few pro-Okpalaeke groups are enjoying the support of the church hierarchy.
It will be recalled that more than 200 priests from the diocese trooped out to protest the appointment of one of their own and pro-Okpalaeke priest, Rev. Fr. Clement Ebii as the Vicar General of the Diocese by the Apostolic Administrator, John Cardinal Onaiyekan.
The priests, it was learnt, also sponsored the Catholic Women Organisation to embark on another round of demonstration to force Cardinal Onaiyekan to withdraw that appointment, saying the appointment of Fr. Ebii was part of the ?desperate attempts of Cardinal Onaiyekan to further cause the internal crisis in the diocese?.
The appointment of Fr. Ebii followed the resignation of Rev. Fr. Professor Louis Asiegbu last April, whose advice that the pro-Bishop Okpalaeke priests should not be given viable parishes(as part of their punishment), was ignored by Cardinal Onaiyekan, who instead, posted one of the priests, Fr. Chima Ahaneku to St. Patrick?s Parish Umuokrika Ekwereazu.
While some of the protesting priests, who demonstrated at the Mater Ecclesiae Cathedral, Ahiara Mbaise, accused Onaiyekan of trying to use the appointment of Fr. Ebii to bring back the ?rejected? Bishop Okpalaeke, others accused Fr. Ebii of scheming to become the new bishop of the diocese.


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