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Onitsha crisis: Mob attacks bishop

Posted by John Ameh, Onitsha on 2006/06/29 | Views: 647 |

Onitsha crisis: Mob attacks bishop


The Archbishop of the Methodist Church, Onitsha, Anambra State, Bishop Chibuzor Opoko, narrowly escaped death on Wednesday when he was attacked by.....

The Archbishop of the Methodist Church, Onitsha, Anambra State, Bishop Chibuzor Opoko, narrowly escaped death on Wednesday when he was attacked by people suspected to be members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.

He did not go unscathed as he sustained a cut on his right cheek.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Haruna John, said that 11 people had been arrested in connection with the attack

Our correspondent learnt that the attackers, numbering about 50, were protesting an allegation that Opoko was acting as a spy for the joint military and police team, which dislodged suspected members of MASSOB from Fegge on Tuesday.

Sources said that on arrival at the church’s premises at about 6am , some of the attackers held members of the cleric’s household, including his five children, hostage.

Others fished out the bishop and attacked him with dangerous weapons.

Opoko was said to have hidden somewhere in the church premises located on 18/23 Ukpor/Oraukwu Road in the Fegge area of the city after managing to struggle out of the clutches of his attackers.

Before fleeing after more than two hours that the operation lasted, the hoodlums vandalised the church premises.

They also ransacked many rooms.

Policemen, who later raced to the scene, evacuated Opoko and members of his family to the area command.

The Commissioner of Police blamed the attack on MASSOB.

John said, “It was a sad incident but the bishop is not dead. I sent a team, led by the Onitsha Area Commander (Mr. Matthew Uyanna), to the place immediately I was informed.

“He has been evacuated with members of his family to the area command, from where he will go for proper medical attention.”

Opoko later spoke with newsmen at the command after he was checked by a medical doctor and given first aid treatment.

He said, “I want to say glory be to God and I have asked Him to forgive my attackers for they know not what they have done.

“I woke up this (Wednesday) morning at about 6am to hear that some youths were thundering that I brought soldiers and police to attack them in Fegge.

“I told them that I did no such thing because the same police prevented me from getting to the hospital to see my wife who was due for an operation on Tuesday.

“I don’t even know what group is doing what; how can I give information to the police about things I don’t know?

“But they would not listen; there were about 50 of them; one of them picked a stone, threw it at me but it smashed the windscreen of my car instead.

“Then they dragged me to the wall and used a bench to press me against the wall; one tired to cut me with a knife but I dodged and it cut my cheek.

“I asked them, ‘who sent you to do this to me?’ And their reply was that, ‘by the time we are through with you, you will know who sent us.’’

The police said that investigations into the incident were still in progress.

Meanwhile, a meeting scheduled between John and leaders of the National Association of Road Transport Owners in Awka did not hold on Wednesday.

Our correspondent gathered that the MASSOB and NARTO leaders stayed away because of the fear that they might be arrested.

It was also learnt that the commissioner wanted to use the occasion to inform them “diplomatically” that the proscription of their groups would take effect from July 3.

John confirmed to our correspondent that the meeting did not hold .

He said,“We have decided to proceed with our operation (dislodging the groups) as earlier planned.”

Some influential members of NARTO sighted at the area command allegedly held discussions with some officers.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.