Mayhem in Awka as Catholic Church, community youths clash

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• 30 injured, vehicles damaged

From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka

Hail was let loose Wednesday evening, in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, as members of the Awka Catholic Diocese and natives of Umudioka village, Awka, had a bloody clash over dust-to-dust burial rites. In the clash, over 30 persons were seriously injured while about four vehicles were damaged.

Though some of the victims of the bloody clash have been discharged from the hospital, about eight, including a 70-year-old man, were still lying critically at the Regina Caeli Hospital, Awka, as at press time yesterday.

The clash, which was said to have taken place between 4.30pm and 7pm, caused pandemonium in the area, as various dangerous weapons, including machetes, were freely used, forcing residents of the area to run for their dear lives.

While the Catholic Church claimed that her members were attacked by the Umudioka youths, as they where coming back from Mass at the family of the late Mr. Samuel Nwanna Nnebolise in Umudioka, the villagers said they were attacked by thugs brought by the Catholic Church over their insistence on their burial customs and tradition.

It could be recalled that there has been a feud between the Catholic Church and the Awka community over the dust-to-dust burial rite, which escalated on May 23, 2013 during the planed burial of the late Nnebolise, when the youth of Umudioka allegedly disrupted the burial and desecrated holy things.

At the hospital yesterday, some of the victims, who could speak, alleged that they were ambushed by Umudioka youths, on their way home from the Nnebolise family, after the prayers.

Nurses said they battled all night to save the lives of the victims, especially, 19-year-old Moses Ogah from St. John’s Church Umuokpu, whose throat was almost chopped off and 23-year-old Aduaka Jonah Ekene, from St. Martins Church Abagan, who had severe machete cuts all around his body.

Narrating his ordeal to Daily Sun on his hospital bed, 70-year-old, Sir Peter C. Offodile, a knight of St. Molumba said: “Someone sent me a text yesterday that the Bishop wanted to address us by 2pm.

I came and they said that we should go and pray for the family of Nnebolise and everybody should march to the place for the celebration of Mass. All of us, including priests, indeed, about 50 of them, we went there and celebrated Mass and sermon was said and communion served.

“After the Mass, we all marched through Majoua Street on our way home. A group of boys from Umudioka stopped us and started attacking us with sticks and stones. They pushed me into the gutter.

One of the boys broke my hand with a big stick and some used their machetes to hit me. I managed to get out of the gutter almost naked, holding my trousers; I even lost one pair of my shoe. It was at the end of the road that we saw the police.

From there we were taken to the Cathedral and then to the hospital, Regina Caeli, where I am being treated.”

Another victim, Sir Obuekwe Obikwelu from Umuanaga village Awka, whose head was bandaged because of the machete cuts he got said: “We went to celebrate Mass at Umudioka at late Nnebolise’s family and after celebrating the mass, we were coming back when we were waylaid by some bad boys.

As we were running I looked back and saw an old man my fellow knight of St. Molumba being beating by the boys and I felt if I left him, they may kill the old man. I went to them and said this person you are beating is an old man and your brother; why beat him?

They turned round and swooped on me, the first one gave me a machete cut here, as I was holding the side, stones were rained on me and I was rushed to this hospital.” The Cathedral Administrator, St. Patrick Cathedral Awka, Rev. Fr. Patrick Amaobi Chukwuma, who has been at the centre of the matter, told Daily Sun at the hospital that they went to Nnebolise family to pray for them only to be attacked again by the Umudioka youths.

He said: “Yesterday some priests from Awka Diocese, from Awka region and Adazi region and some laity, including Catholic men, Catholic women and some youths we went to identify with poor family of Nnebolise, who have been suppressed by some people from Umudioka because they are poor.

This thing has been happening since May 24, when their father, Samuel Nnebolise, died.

The man before he died willed that he will be buried according to Catholic rite but the villagers said no, he would be buried according to traditional rite that is the controversy.

“But the family invited us to bury their father, according Catholic rite, which they refused and the corpse was returned to the mortuary and the family went into prayers.

Last week, they wanted to stage a prayer and after putting canopies and chairs for the prayers, the same youths masked themselves, with about 20 masquerades; that was last Monday.

They came into the family, armed and destroyed the canopies, took away the seats, snatched handsets, destroyed the altar set and carried everything away with some clothes.

“Yesterday, the church organised herself to celebrate Mass with the family. We went there with many priests and laity.

After celebrating the Mass, we were about to go when stones started flying from hidden places, from uncompleted houses, some houses. Stones were being thrown by unknown people. Our youths have to defend the members of the church.

They threw back the stones. We were going, not knowing that the Umudioka youths were armed with machetes and they started stabbing people. You have seen some of the victims.

They were about 36, who sustained injuries from machete cuts and stones. About 36 of them were affected. Some have been discharged. Those who are critical are still in the hospital.” Disagreeing with Rev. Fr. Chukwuma’s account, the Chairman, Okolobia Umudioka, Chief Ejike Nwude, said the church members attacked the village.

He said: “It’s unfortunate, the mayhem was caused by the thugs. They waylaid us yesterday, beat up our boys, destroyed our houses, even vehicles. Yesterday morning we went to the Area Command with Father Chukwuma for peace, and the Area Commander instructed everybody to be at peace and not to go to Umudioka again.

“We accepted what the commander said and left, everybody went home and that was why they took us unaware because we were not expecting them.

We thought we’ve reached a point of agreement. Unfortunately, around 4pm, I started getting phone calls that the Catholic priest, with heavily armed people, marched from St Patrick through Majua and when they got to Majua Street, they started breaking glasses of Umudioka buildings, throwing stone, singing war songs and making abusive insinuations.

“In the process, one Igbogi Ejikeme, unaware that they were coming for war, ran into them and they pounced on him. The young man is still in the hospital as I am speaking with you.

While they were going, they saw Chukeudeme’s house and they destroyed it. “They started throwing stones on anybody they met on the way. We ran away.

We could not do anything because we were not expecting such magnitude of thugs.” On who injured the church people, Nwude said: “Because they came from different places. They did not know themselves.

They attacked themselves, because immediately you step out of the land and tried to come back they take you as an enemy. They inflicted the injuries on themselves because they came from different places.

They were hired. Some came from Nise, Mbaukwu and Nanka and so on.”

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19 Comments

  1. What is Gods religion. Christianity, Islamic or tradition?
    We all have a thousand months on average and yet rather than live we kill in the name of this same God.
    who has ever been to heaven and come back to tell us Gods religion not even jesus Christ has been able to do that in two thousand and thirteen years.
    Yet we are ready to die and kill in the same name.
    Does a soul really cares what happens to it’s body after death? I doubt it as when you are gone out of your body you are gone for ever. What the living then do with your body is their business.
    Its a shame though.

  2. Nothing surprise me again about naija jews cos anything is possible there. They claimed to be predominant christain n they still worship idol. If this were to happened in Yoruba land, that asshole owerri bastard n his assh licker dog called hunchback okon would be crying by now calling Yorubas names.we know u’re hypo.

  3. The Church i know cannot attack the Umudioka Villagers. It will be an onerous task to step into a village you dont know too well. The Holy Scriptures forbids violence. I totally disagree with Chief Ejike Nwude that the Youths from the church attacked them. He is trying to defend his youths. But dont forget he who figths the children of God is attracting a big condemnation for his self. May God out of his infinite mercy save the lifes of our youths from thuggery and violence.

  4. Ejike Nwude should know that if a man fights with man, its either man mediates or God intervenes, but when man Fights with the holy God, who will intervene. Nwude, the bible says that its a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of God, remember that God is a consuming fire. i see you walking down the aisles of destruction.A deaf housefly follows corpse to the grave. I pray that someone that love you will tell you what you will hear. many people like you have tried things like these in the past, many of them did not get to the root before they passed on.

    Mr Amodu, when a case of these nature comes up try to be fair and human in your comments, remember that we live to reap our actions and words both now and in eternity.

    police should do their job without favoritism, i remember that the Rev. Father in this community was crying for threat to his life and less than a week, this story comes up. may God protect his people.

  5. Nwude do u think you can apply political statement in everything and go scotfree? When the wrath of God will come upon you and your family don’t run to adoration ground enugu, uke, elele, monastery, or disturb any priest for prayers, today you are healthy instead of using your fittnes to serve God u are using it to attract wrath of God upon yourself & family, vengers is coming, when it come upon u even your evil men collaborators will deny u, even some occultic knites of the church that hide themselves behind d mask of virtue in that your village will deny u, since u have decided to fight God in defence for d idle which u are worshiping be ready to face what will come out of it. It can delay but it must surely come. Be warned.

  6. Odogwu_Aganaga on

    actually akin is correct except just that he decided not to address the issue which is civic freedom = freedom of movement, association, assembly; all of these are tautological to freedom of religion in any democratic state of society. any interference with any of these freedoms is a gross violation of public order code that merits severe penalty. anyone who believes hrh ejike nwude will believe anything. the police did not do their work (at least not enough) i.e. to initiate criminal (civil rights violation) charges against king nwude, his lieutenants and foot soldiers. impunity will continue as long as people can get away with it. any ways no worry self ’cause na naijaria factor. police chop money dem sidon look. shame on naijaria! shame on naijarians!! shame on the shameless!!!

  7. I have asked this question times without number, and no one has been able to give me any logical answer; as everyone seems to be defending his or her religion sentimentally. Before Christianity there were traditional religions, and after Christianity, then came Islam. While Christianity main aim was to see the abolition of traditional order, Islam came and try to see that both tradition and Christianity are abolished. While neglecting their tradition, some will say that there is need for one to embrace any of the two dominant religion foisted on us by the same people who enslaved some of our people in the past without thinking of God. To me, those who said so are political religionists, as the two religion stand firm on their beliefs.
    Who can tells me God’s own religion?

  8. When did catholics begin to abhor tradition? The annual Ahiajoku lecture in south east was championed by a catholic priest. Ahiajoku is the god of yam which the heathens sacrifice to before eating new yam. So why the shade blood now?

  9. There are people who make statement out of sentment and emotion, pls be careful when issue Like this is being discus, it has to do with almight God. He is not respecter of any man and his word is yes n amen, d Bible say u shall know the truth n it shall set u free. Friend can we jst pray and leave the rest for God to decide yes its a spiritual matter the Bible say dat gate of hell will never prevail agaist the church so relax cos God will fight d fight. My cath brethren leave it for the prince of peace jst pray for justice and judgement cos. Jesus never fails. May he bless thos who seek him in truth n spirit

  10. Idol tradition versus catholic tradition all of them are man made,dust to dust is not a requirement to go to heaven.Jesus is the way, truth and life,nobody goes to the father except through him.

    • You have said it all; Jesus is the answer. Accept Jesus and his teachings in the Bible and you are on the right track!!

  11. I dont know why people choose to tell lies and deceive others. You can full some people some time but not all the people all the time. Ejike Nwude change ur ways becos we all know the truth. This faithfuls were marching peacefuly only to be attacked by ur men and in other not to be wiped away they defended themselves and here u re telling us that they re hired tugs. I advice u to turn away from ur evil ways and make peace with ur God becos u hve encoured his wrath. As for the police, they re biased on this issue. They hve been compromised and they dnt do their job. Pls i urge the IG to investigate this matter and call the police authorities in Awka to order.

  12. When law makers and leaders of Nigeria are travelling in bullet proof cars, then its time for, we, the ordinary folks to vacate the country. Only unfortunately, some (country) now demands £3000 to enter and who can afford it is this same bullet proof car owners.
    That accident from the story above stems from over inflation of the cars tyres. So the driver out of ignorance is culpable.
    Every car has a tyre pressure measurement designed for the temperature of every earthly country.
    In Nigeria the tyre temperature rises due to our hot country so we must know what is good for each car before you take that drive. It could mean a difference between life and death

  13. matthew anumati on

    THIS ISSUE IS VERY SYMPATHETIC,MY BIG QUESTION IS CAN ANYBODY FIGHT GOD OR FOR GOD ?THE UMUDIOKA COMMUNITY ARE TRADITIONALLY FANATICAL,THE DESEAED HAS WILLED THAT HE SHOULD BE GIVEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BURIAL AND THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH HAS DONE ,WHY IS THE UMUDIOKA COMMUNITY NOT AFRAID OF GOD ?DO THEY KNOW THAT ATTACKING AN ORDAINED MAN OF GOD THEY ARE CHALLENGING GOD ?THAT GOD IS TOO MERCIFUL SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.MOST IMPORTANTLY THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION PROVIDES FOR FREEEDOM OF WORSHIP.IN MY CANDID OPINION THE CHURCH IS VERY RIGHT IN THERE OPERATION.

  14. Sunny Akhigbe on

    Why is Christianity still being practiced in Igbo land like in the days of Things Fall Apart? By now there should have been understanding between the Catholic church and the traditionalists. Too bad!

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