*request for prayers after robbery
Churches in Imo State are facing hard times following the new wave of armed robbery incidents in the state.
According to information available to 247ureports.com, about three churches have so far been attacked and robbed by the criminals in the last two weeks.
The situation is worse in Mbano axis of the state where St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Osu in Isiala Mbano LGA, St. Paul’s Catholic Parish, Umuezeala-ama in Ehime Mbano LGA and the Cathedral Church of Christ(Diocese of Okigwe North), Ezihe, in Isiala Mbano LGA were ransacked and valuables, personal effects and church offerings were taken away.
According to one of the victims and parish priest of St. Paul’s Osu, Monsignor Eugene Onuoha, the robbers came to his parish house around 3.30 am on Monday, August 19, 2013.
He said however that the bandits told him to relax and that they did not come to harm or kill anyone in the parish house, but to ‘find something to eat’.
Thereafter, the priest said they ransacked the place and made away with all the money in his possession including Sunday Mass offering, Pontifical collection, phones, laptop computers, etc.
His curate, Rev. Fr. Thaddeus Nnebedum, he said, was not spared as he was dispossed of money, electronic gadgets and other valuables.
Strangely, the priest disclosed that before the marauders made to leave around 4.15am after their business, they requested him to pray for and bless them, a request he said he granted, describing the experience as shocking.
A week before the incident, it was also learnt that the robbers had visited St. Paul’s Umuezeala-ama, where the parish priest, Rev. Fr. Christopher Chukwuma was quoted by The Sage(Okigwe Catholic Newspaper) as saying that the robbers numbering about eight came with a Hummer bus.
The non-hostile robbers, according to the priest, were fully armed with pump action rifles, pistols, and big iron cutter with which they broke the doors to the rectory, and dispossed him and his curate, Rev. Fr. Celestine Okezie of laptop and desktop computers, microwave machine, undisclosed amount of money including Sunday Mass collection and other valuables.
At the Cathedral Church of Christ, the details of the incident were sketchy.
While some worshippers said that the bandits robbed the bishop of the diocese, others said it was the priest in charge of the church that was robbed.
Meanwhile, the robbers went on to rob Rega Hotel located beside the Cathedral.
Efforts made to contact the state PPRO, DSP Joy Elemoko for comments did not any result as she did not pick her phone as at press time.
Meanwhile, concerned Imolites have condemned the new wave of worry and uncertainty which has pervaded the churches in the state, describing it as a result of inept leadership in the state.
According to one of the parishioners of St. Maria Gorothy Catholic Church, Ikenegbu, Owerri, Chief Joe Ohiri, the state government should be blamed for the crime upsurge in Imo.
‘I wholly blame Governor Rochas Okorocha for the rise in crime. You’re a journalist, you’ll recall that since he cancelled the employment given to 10,000 youths by the former governor, Ikedi Ohakim, the crime situation has soared.
‘I can tell you that it’s easy to stop some of these people from engaging in such criminal activities when they dont have jobs. So my advice is for the governor to do something urgent about real youth empowerment not paper or TV youth empowerment’