A Priest at St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Ugbenu, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, Rev. Father Fidelis Ifeanyichukwu Ugozo, was on Monday attacked at Obubo village located in Ugbenu by irate youths suspected to be idol worshippers from the area.
The priest was attacked and beaten to a pulp by the irate youths who tore his humeral veil to shreds and stabbed him and other Christians who also sustained various degrees of injuries while performing their monthly Rosary procession.
According to an eye witness report, the priest was carrying the ‘Blessed Sacrament’ in procession going round some villages in the community when they were stopped by one Mr. Gabriel Ikegbunam who is now at large.
“Mr. Ikegbunem insisted that they will not enter his village named Obubo and when they overpowered him, he started making contacts, calling some youths from the village to attack the priest and others who were mainly women and children.
Father Ugozo, who is also the Spiritual Director of Amen and Amen Ministry, Omor in Orumba North Local Government Area of the state was first rushed to an undisclosed hospital in Ebenebe but because of his comatose state, he was transferred to St. Joseph’s hospital, Adazi Ani by the Ebenebe Deanery Chaplain.
According to a former Catechist at St. Raphael’s parish Ugbenu, Chief Cletus Nwankwo, Obubo village is known in Ugbenu town for adulterous acts, adding that the youths suspected that the Rosary procession was aimed at destroying their deity shrine.
“They moved from Agueke village to Obiagu and decided to branch at Obubo before Ikegbunam blocked them and in the process, he called some of them and told them that Catholics are coming to burn their shrine. Soon the youths trooped out, wielding dangerous weapons such as axe, gun and machetes.
“They grabbed the Blessed Sacrament from our Parish Priest, hit it on the floor and used the Monstrance to hit our Parish priest on his hand before stabbing him on the face and other parts of the body,” he said.
On his part, the Traditional Ruler of Ugbenu town, HRM, Igwe Lawrence Egwuonu, whose wife, Lolo Egwuonwu was also battered by the youths, said that Mr. Gabriel Ikegbunam, Israel Egwu and two others stormed his palace before the incident occurred to complain that their shrine and other sacred symbols were burnt by Christians.
“After investigation I discovered that they were all liars. None of their shrines were burnt and I can defend it anywhere. It was Ikegbunam that incited others to attack the priest and other Christians. There greatest mistake was touching the priest and destroying the Blessed Sacrament. It is a sacrilege and they will pay for it,” he said.
The two culprits, Mr. Anthony Anigbogu and Humphrey Ekwenye have been arrested by the Police and are now cooling off at the State CID, Awka, while other accomplices, Moses Ekwenye, their leader, Ikegbunam, Amechi Onuorah, popularly known asDangote, Sunday Okoye and Toochukwu Okoye are still at large.
Other suspects still at large include Sunday Innocent, Amaechi Anozie, Oge Nnakee, Lambert Okoye, Ejike Okafor and Omenankiti Uba who is the Chief Priest of Ofufe deity.
Although Uba could not be reached for comments, one of his allies who pledged anonymity said they were protecting their deity since the Catholic Priest is in the habit of carrying and destroying deities in the town.
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