Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor
The Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, has condemned the assault on the Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, warning those behind the act to refrain from such or attract God's wrath.
Bishop Obinna narrowly escaped a mob action at the altar during a commendation Mass at St. Michael's Catholic Church organized in honour of the late Mrs. Juliana Mbata of Mgwoma Obube Community in Owerri North Local Government Area of Imo State, by thugs believed to be loyal to Imo State Government.
The bishop had pointedly criticised the policies of the Imo State Government, as well as the plan by Gov Rochas Okorocha to impose his son-in-law on the people of the state as his successor.
This did not go down well with supporters of the government, especially those of the chief of staff who is Okorocha's son-in-law being prepared to replace Okorocha.
The Archbishop also said the people of Imo State were suffering, noting that despite creating a Ministry of Happiness by the governor, Imo people were still not happy.
He was at this point interrupted by murmurings in the audience, but he said he did not hear what the people were saying and called out someone who had raised his hands to speak.
The thugs then started raining abuses on the Archbishop and called him uncountable and unprintable names.
The supporters had rushed to the altar and attempted to snatch the microphone from the bishop, but for the intervention of other priests who formed a protective ring around the bishop. While this happened, Okorocha and other top government functionaries who were there did not make any move to stop the attackers.
Reacting to it, Bishop Ezeokafor who spoke at St. Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Awka,while playing host to the members of Civil SocietyLabour- Media Alliance, Anambra State, condemned the incident and warned those involved in what he described as a dastardly act to desist forthwith or face the full wrath of God.
'Judging from what I was told, a group of thugs perceived to be loyal to the Imo State Government disrupted the church Commendation Mass. I heard they called the Archbishop all manner of unprintable names.
'See, no one has the right to interrupt a homily. You do not question the preacher. You do not reply a homily. It is like a law court there you have to keep quiet. But, here in Imo State, you see them questioning and interrupting the Archbishop. It is abominable and condemnable.
'These politicians no longer have regard for God. How can someone come into a church and start causing commotion? I am not from Imo. I can only advice the electorate to vote for a good candidate. I really feel for Archbishop Obinna,' Bishop Ezeokafor said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Ezeokafor has called on the National Assembly to have a rethink over the proposed Hate Speech Bill presently rocking the nation. The Catholic prelate expressed reservations over the idea mooted by a section of the Senate to have anyone who violated the hate speech law to be sentenced to death by hanging.
The chief shepherd of Awka Catholic Diocese said the Bill would be disastrous if not properly managed.
Bishop Ezeokafor also threw his weight behind the call for Local Government Autonomy, noting that if such a Bill was passed, it would bring about positive development, especially in the rural areas.