Irate Youths said to be Idol worshipers, yesterday attacked a Priest, Rev. Father Fidelis Ifeanyichukwu Ugozo of the St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Ugbenu, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State, beating him to a state of coma and then stabbing him in the face and other parts of his body.
According to residents of the community, the priest and some of his followers were carrying out the ‘Blessed Sacrament’ procession around some of the villages when they were stopped by one of the youth leader in Obubo village in Ugbenu town, Gabriel Ikegbunam, who felt the clergy man and his followers who were also performing their monthly rosary procession, were out to burn down their deity.
“Mr. Ikegbunem insisted that they will not enter his village named Obubo and when they overpowered him, he started making contacts, calling some youths from the village to attack the priest and others who were mainly women and children”he told ABS news
The Catholic priest after the attack was rushed to an undisclosed hospital in Ebenebe but due to his comatose state, he was transferred to St. Joseph’s hospital, Adazi Ani by the Ebenebe Deanery Chaplain.
A former catechist at St. Raphael’s parish Ugbenu, Cletus Nwankwo, said Obubo village is known in Ugbenu town for adulterous acts, adding that the youths suspected that the Rosary procession was aimed at destroying their deity shrine.
“They moved from Agueke village to Obiagu and decided to branch at Obubo before Ikegbunam blocked them and in the process, he called some of them and told them that Catholics are coming to burn their shrine. Soon the youths trooped out, wielding dangerous weapons such as axe, gun and machetes. They grabbed the Blessed Sacrament from our Parish Priest, hit it on the floor and used the Monstrance to hit our Parish priest on his hand before stabbing him on the face and other parts of the body” he said.
The Traditional ruler of Ugbenu town, Igwe Lawrence Egwuonu, whose wife, Lolo Egwuonwu was also battered by the youths, said that Gabriel Ikegbunam, Israel Egwu and two others stormed his palace before the incident occurred to complain that their shrine and other sacred symbols were burnt by Christians.
“After investigation I discovered that they were all liars. None of their shrines were burnt and I can defend it anywhere. It was Ikegbunam that incited others to attack the priest and other Christians. There greatest mistake was touching the priest and destroying the Blessed Sacrament. It is a sacrilege and they will pay for it,” he said.
Two of the rampaging youths Anthony Anigbogu and Humphrey Ekwenye, have been arrested and are currently in the custody of the State CID, Awka, while other accomplices are still at large.