Catholic Bishop declares week-long reparation following pro-Mbaka riot

Catholic Bishop declares week-long reparation following pro-Mbaka riot

As Ejike Mbaka’s political miring fodders a national spectacle, his superiors are coming to terms with either curbing his speech or preserving t

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As Ejike Mbaka’s political miring fodders a national spectacle, his superiors are coming to terms with either curbing his speech or preserving the pulpit.

To this end, the Catholic Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Callistus Onaga, declared a one week prayer over the invasion of the diocesan central place of worship in Enugu.

Onaga disclosed this in a statement on Thursday while reacting to a mob attack on the place of worship and his official residence in Igboeze Street, Independence Layout, Enugu.

Some protesting youths suspected to be members of the Adoration Ministries, Enugu had on Wednesday besieged the bishop’s official residence and the Holy Ghost Cathedral beside Ogbete Main Market, Enugu. The irate youths were protesting the alleged ‘disappearance’ of the director of the ministry, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka.

Mbaka was called in and suspended for one month with effect from May 3 following his spar with the Buhari administration and support for IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Mbaka was summoned by Callistus Valentine Onaga, the diocesan bishop. who warned that his conduct was smearing the image of the church, the largest of any Christian organisation worldwide.

Mbaka sparred with Buhari’s aides in a series of verbal fireworks that included the Nigerian presidency threatening to blackmail the priest as a political jobber and public contract racketeer. Mr Mbaka denied the allegations.

Still, Onaga and other senior reverend fathers of the Enugu Diocese were compelled to step in and mitigate the unfolding public perception tumult that could have far-reaching consequences for the conventional but unofficial church and state relationship.

The church leaders recognised that Mbaka’s Adoration Ministry as an independent congregation that does not fall directly under the main church’s control, he could still be reined in as a priest under the Roman Catholic’s certification, officials said.

Following his suspension, Mbaka returned to his ministry that lies north of the outskirts of Enugu city centre, where he subsequently incited his members against the bishop, sources said.

Mbaka’s followers claimed without evidence that he was kidnapped by Mr Onaga and handed over to the State Security Service. They subsequently marched on the premises of the bishop on Wednesday morning, looting and destroying assets therein.

The mob also descended on the Holy Ghost Cathedral, again looting and destroying items in the building. The members also went to town to allege that the SSS had arrested Mbaka — generating widespread media reports despite lacking requisite corroboration.

His brief detention sparked spontaneous protest as his adherents staged protests to the Diocesan headquarters.

Onaga said that the protesters violently broke into the diocesan cathedral and desecrated the holy altar of sacrifice.

“Over and above this, they brutally vandalised the diocesan bishop’s residence, the cathedral parish house and the secretariat building complex,” he said.

The Bishop, therefore, called on all Catholic Parishes, Chaplaincies and Religious Houses in the Catholic Diocese of Enugu to embark on prayer of Atonement and Reparation over the incident.

“I hereby declare and call for a one week union of prayer in reparation and atonement for this heinous act against our central place of worship and the sanctity of the church.

“The prayer begins from Friday May 7 to Friday May 14 and every parish, chaplaincy and religious community in the diocese is obliged to participate in this holy activity.

“I enjoin you to remain sober and keep the diocese in prayer. With divine assistance and grace, we shall overcome this challenging moment,” Onaga said.