- Supporters of Nnamdi Kanu stormed a Catholic church in Onitsha on Tuesday, January 18 to disrupt a mass
- Worshippers took to their heels on sighting the hoodlums who were said to have been holding sticks and fuel
- The ability of the Catholic priest presiding over the mass to think on his feet saved the day in what would have been a disaster
Awada - Hoodlums suspected to members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Tuesday, January 18 stormed a Catholic Church in Onitsha, Anambra state.
Daily Trust newspaper reports that the gunmen, who invaded the church while service was ongoing, queried the parish priest on why he was celebrating a mass when their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, was on his way to court.
One of the worshippers present during the raid and quoted in the report, said there was almost a stampede as the young men forced their way into the church.
She stated that the angry youths confronted the priest, who was said to have used tact and diplomacy to pacify them.
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The witness said:
“This morning I went for the 5:30 am morning mass in my church at St Theresa of Kalkuta Parish in Awada, it is close to Ukaegbu junction.
“We were halfway 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.
“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.”
Nnamdi Kanu: FG files fresh terrorism charges against IPOB leader
Recall that the federal government had on Monday, January 17 filed fresh terrorism charges against Kanu.
In the amended process it filed before the Federal High Court sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, the government increased the counts in the initial charge it preferred against the IPOB leader.
According to the report, Kanu will now enter his fresh plea to 15 amended charges marked FHC/ABJ/CR/383/2015 and signed by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, M. B. Abubakar.
Nigerian soldiers dislodge IPOB/ESN members, recover dangerous weapons
Meanwhile, some members of IPOB and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN) have been neutralised by security operatives.
The IPOB/ESN members were killed during a coordinated attack by the Nigerian soldiers and other security agents on their camp at Lilu forest in Anambra state.