- Catholic priest beaten to unconsciousness for violating order
By David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
Residents of Awka, the Anambra State capital, on Thursday shunned the order by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for them to sit at home in honour of fallen Biafran patriots.
THISDAY, which went round the capital city of Awka, observed that there was movement in the town, both vehicular and human, just as public places were open for business.
Meanwhile, the story was different in the commercial city of Onitsha and the industrial town of Nnewi, as THISDAY gathered that the towns were totally shut down.
This is as a Catholic priest, Rev Fr Festus Eziamaka, Vicar of St Jude’s Catholic Church in Nnewi, who dared to drive out as early as before 6am to celebrate mass for his parishioners, was attacked, beaten to unconsciousness and his vehicle damaged by suspected members of IPOB.
Though it was gathered that some schools in Awka did not open, most of the schools visited by THISDAY were in full session, with students and teachers engaging in academic activities.
Eke Awka market, one of the biggest markets in the town, was also in session, even though the number of traders and customers in the market were limited as compared to what it usually is.
Banks were also open, just as a visit to the state secretariat showed that work was in full session, with workers milling around the complex.
In Onitsha, it was gathered that no market was open, just as the usually busy streets were a ghost of themselves. The Onitsha Niger Bridge was also said to have been shut, to avoid exit or entry into the town.
In Nnewi, almost all the industries were closed from morning hours till noon, just as the roads remained scanty too.
Also in Nnewi, people suspected IPOB members attacked a Catholic priest, identified as Rev Fr Eziamaka. THISDAY gathered that the priest, who is the Vicar of St Jude’s Parish in Nnewi, was attacked around Ibeto junction, while he was going for morning mass at 6am.
Though the Police Public Relations Officer of Anambra State Police Command, SP Haruna Mohammed, who spoke to a journalist on phone, said there was no incidence of violence anywhere in the state resulting from of the IPOB sit-at-home order, but a priest, Rev Fr Celestine Okonkwo, confirmed the incident.
He said: “Our priest, Fr. Festus Eziamaka, parish vicar of St. Jude’s Parish, Nnewi, presently residing at the Bishop House, from where he shuttles everyday to his duties for his parish, was attacked before 6am today 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 today. They shot very close to his eyes and beat him up. His vehicle was badly damaged. Thank God, he was rushed to Teaching Hospital. The doctors immediately took him to the theatre.”
Attempts to reach the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr Emma Powerful, for confirmation of the attack on the priest by his members failed, but a statement made available to THISDAY by him, boasted that his group has conquered the entire South-east and South-south.
The statement read: “Any lingering doubt that IPOB is in complete charge of the entire Biafraland has been dispelled by the level of high compliance with the sit-at-home directive issued by the leadership of our great movement.
“The early morning broadcast from our leader in Atlanta, Georgia USA at 6am local time in Biafra set the tone for the day. Indications from all quarters points to total compliance across the board including Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.
“The respect and humility Biafrans demonstrated today (Thursday) is an indication that Biafra restoration is the singular most important issue in the lives of our people.
“If this level of solidarity with the direction and philosophy of IPOB leadership is sustained in the coming months, the feared Fulanisation agenda of Aso Rock will be successfully repelled.
“We encourage our people to remain steadfast and not allow themselves to be intimidated into disrespecting our war heroes by venturing outside. Today (Thursday) is a truly historic day, our dead soldiers will be proud of us.”