A Catholic Church in Onitsha, Anambra State, was on Tuesday January 18, allegedly invaded by gunmen suspected to be members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), who were reportedly enforcing the group’s sit-at-home order.
Recall that ahead of arraignment of the proscribed group’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu in court on Tuesday January 18, IPOB issued a sit-at-home order, which they said should be obeyed in all South-East states.
Daily Trust reported that a stampede ensued after the gunmen forced their way into the church. An eyewitness said the angry youths confronted a priest, who used tact and diplomacy to pacify them.
The publication also alleged that IPOB members burnt a tricycle they found on the road and beat its rider to a pulp.
An eyewitness told publication;
“This morning I went for the 5:30am morning mass in my church at St Theresa of Kalkuta Parish in Awada, it is close to Ukaegbu junction.
“We were half way into the mass when some group of boys suspected to be members of IPOB entered the church. They were carrying sticks and even fuel. They went straight to the altar and were almost half-way there.
“They approached our parish priest, Rev Fr Joseph, and asked him why he was celebrating mass on a day when their leader was going to court. They were quite a number of them who were visibly angry.
“Everybody in the church took to their heels. There would have been a stampede because there were a lot of people at mass today. I ran to a building close to the church.
“Father Joseph told them we were holding mass today to pray for the release of Nnamdi Kanu. He used diplomacy, and even asked them if they were really for Ndi Igbo or Against Ndi Igbo? They now said okay, that if so, the people in the church were for them.
“They then called back everyone to continue the mass that they were now convinced that the church people were Biafrans. Some of us were so afraid that we could not return, so we went home from there. They apologised to the priest and left.
“The same group went out and saw a tricycle rider. No one knows why the man was outside because on sit-at-home days, you hardly find tricycle outside. They beat up the man and burnt his tricycle.”