1 Oct 2017

Igbo Day: How Bayelsa Commissioner of Police Averted Crisis at a Catholic Church

A major crisis would have rocked St. Matthias Catholic Church in Bayelsa state during a prayer summit to mark the Igbo Day Celebration, but for the timely intervention of the state Police commissioner.
Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State Command, Asuquo Amba, at the weekend, waded into the crisis rocking the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, state chapter in the state.

According to Daily Sun, the police boss had to intervene to avert fracas between the two factions at St. Matthias Catholic church during a prayer summit to mark the Igbo Day Celebration.

President of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Bayelsa State, Chief Maurice Amaku, had announced the cancellations of the Igbo Day celebration in Bayelsa State and had directed all Igbo to use the occasion to  reflect and pray for the unity of Nigeria.

However, the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC), led by Chief Arthur Ugwu, a parishioner at St. Matthias Catholic Church, had written to Amba requesting for approval to hold a prayer summit to mark the day.

According to investigations, the police commissioner had given the OYC the go-ahead to hold the prayer summit with a stern warning that there should be no procession or celebration that could lead to break down of law and order in the state.

It was gathered that Amaku got wind of the programme and wrote a letter to the Parish Priest of St. Matthias Catholic Church disassociating Ohanaeze Ndigbo from the prayer summit and reiterated that that Igbo Day celebrations has been cancelled in the state after a careful review of the security situation in the state.

In the letter, Amaku while informing the church that Igbos are not organising any church programme in the church, stated that ‘’we shall not be held responsible for any illegal assembly in the name of Ohanaeze Ndigbo’’

The programme tagged "Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldview 2017 Igbo Prayer Summit for God’s Intervention Upon Igbo’s All Over the World" was on-going when a combined team of Policemen, operatives of the Department of State Security and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps [NSCDC] in company of loyalists of Amaku stormed the church to stop the prayer summit.

It took the intervention of Amba to douse the tension as he ordered the combined security team to vacate the church premises and allow the prayer summit to continue since the organisers have given assurance that they would ensure there is no procession after the event.

Ugwu who regretted the crisis caused by the programme maintained that a letter was sent to the Police to informed the command about the programme, adding that ‘’ the prayer summit was not politically motivated but our sincere love for our people’’

The Police Public Relations Officer [PPRO], Mr Asinim Butswat ho confirmed incident however said it was a effectively handled by the Commissioner of Police.

According to him it has to do with internal crisis of the organisation which the Command believes the affected parties would be able to resolve in due course.

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