Sit-at-home: Catholic Church battles IPOB over attack on Rev Father
IN the past, the confrontation usually witnessed during the annual May 30 remembrance day organised by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, for those who died during the Nigerian civil war and in various prisons in parts of the country, was between the organisation and security operatives. In fact, scores of people who lost their lives during attempt by IPOB members to enforce the sit-at-home order, particularly in cities considered to be the stronghold of the Biafra agitators, were as a result of clash between the security operatives and IPOB.
However, realising the enormous risks involved in enforcing the sit-at-home order, IPOB decided to toe the path of propaganda and threats, even as its members do not carry arms. Out of fear, many people stay at home in the morning of every May 30, and go out for their business activities after mid-day. Last week’s anniversary was, however, different because it coincided with the Feast of Ascension observed as a holy day of obligation by the Catholic Church and services were held like it is done on Sundays. It was therefore not surprising that most Catholics trooped out on May 30, 2019 early to attend Mass scheduled for 6.00am. It was in the course of attending the morning service that suspected members of IPOB confronted the Vicar of St. Jude’s Parish, Nnewi, Reverend Father Festus Eziamaka on his way to celebrate Mass in his parish.
During the attack, Fr. Eziamaka was beaten mercilessly and his car was badly damaged with stones and other weapons. Angered by the development, parishioners of St. Jude’s Church challenged the attackers, resulting in free-for-all. The secretary of the Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Rev. Fr. Celestine Okonkwo, in a statement said: “Our priest, Fr. Festus Eziamaka, parish vicar of St. Jude’s Parish, Nnewi, presently residing at the Bishop House, from where he shuttles every day to his duties for his parish, was attacked before 6am today (May 30) on his way to say the first Mass of Ascension for his parish. “He was attacked and shot by IPOB members who had declared no-movement for the day.
They shot very close to his eyes and beat him up. His vehicle was badly damaged. Thank God he was rushed to the Teaching Hospital and the doctors immediately took him to the theatre.” But IPOB, through it media and publicity secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful denied the organisation’s involvement in the attack. He said: “IPOB remains the quietest association as there had never been any proof of its members using any firearm or any weapon to assault individuals, not to talk of Christians.” According to him, those who attacked the Reverend Father could not have been members of IPOB. Vanguard