The Imo State Police Command has arrested four Catholic priests and 8 others for purportedly organizing the protest that led to the shooting of the Ahiazu Mbaise Divisional Police Officer, Danjuma Ragga. Ragga, a Chief Superintendent of Police was said to have been shot on two legs and hands by the furious Diocesan youth.
In a release made available to newsmen by the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP. Andrew Enwerem, stressed that the Vicar- General of the Diocese, Reverend Father Clement Ebii hosted the National President of the Catholic Women Organization at St. Rose Catholic Church Ezihinittee Mbaise.
The DPO on gathering information that , the youths who gathered at the Mater Ecclesiae Catholic Cathedral in Ahiazu Mbaise LGA insisted on proceeding to the Ezinihitte Parish to stop the hosting of the CWO National President, mobilized his men with the aim of maintaining peace and order within the vicinity.
It was gathered that while going, the youths set up bon fires, barricaded the highway and disrupted the peace of the town.
To restore relative peace in the area, Ragga drafted a team of policemen from the Division to advice the youths to sheathe their sword and embrace peace since the matter was being looked into by the Catholic hierarchy.
It was gathered that the youths led by Rev. Father John Ogokwe of Christ the King Church Uvuru, Ahiazu Mbaise defied the appeal of the DPO as they started hauling missiles at the police , threatening to burn down police vehicle and disarming police officers involved in the operation.
“The youths later fired gunshot from inside the Catholic Cathedral, which hit the DPO on both legs and hands. Further attempts to restore and arrest the culprits was rebuffed by the youths, who continued to fire at the police”.
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner of Police, Taiwo Lakanu said that the command would not tolerate a situation where youths or group of persons would resort to violence to settle differences.
He said, “I assure all those involved in the shooting and wounding of the DPO will be fished out and prosecuted. I hereby order that the Cathedral should remain under lock and key to avoid further violence”.
It could be recalled that the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara had been in crises for over four years following the appointment and consecration of Bishop Peter Okpaleke as the Bishop of the Diocese, which the Mbaise congregation of the Catholic Church totally rejected.
In his reaction, one of the reverend fathers in Ahiara Diocese, Rev. Fr. Ben Ogu described the incident as unfortunate and one of the ways invented to intimidate them in submitting to injustice and lack of due process.
Father Ogu revealed that Awka Diocese has four indigenous bishops who are working within the Awka Diocese, while indicating that the question is, “how are they getting these Bishops, is it because Cardinal Francis Arinze is in Rome?”. Highlighting that what they are fighting against is imposition and highhandedness and lack of rule of law by the Catholic hierarchy.