Fresh crisis is rocking Anglican Church Diocese on the Lake in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State as the diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. C.B.N. Otti, has dragged three senior priests of the church to court for failing to vacate the church premises where they reside with their families.
Orient Daily learnt that the priests, Venerable Canon Eu- gene Onwubie; Rev. Eugene Iheanacho and Ven. Caleb Udom, who are officially in charge of St. Mathias Anglican Church, Nkwesi and Emmanuel Church, Izombe, respectively were sued by the bishop for refusing to submit their ordination certificates to him, a development that led to his issuing them seven days’ notice to vacate their official residences.
However, the crisis took a new twist after the Magis- trate Court in Oguta adjourned the matter with suit no: MOG/10/2017 till December 14, 2017, with worshippers of the affected parishes trooping out in their hundreds to the An- glican Cathedral in Oguta near the court premises demanding the sacking of the bishop.
They carried placards with several inscriptions such as “Bishop Otti, Stop this intimidation now or face our anger”, ‘Bishop Otti, is Diocese on the Lake your private business?”, “Bishop Otti, pay your priests”, “Oguta youths say no to your intimidation, harassment and humiliation”, Enough is enough, Bishop Otti”, amongst others.
Briefing journalists on the matter, spokesman from St. Mathias Anglican Church, Nkwesi, Elder Edwin Onyemaechi, described the bishop’s action against the affected priests as shameful, saying “he brought a minor matter that should have been handled in- house to court. What has happened to round table discussion?” he queried.
He said the protest would
continue even to Abuja so that the Anglican Primate would use the opportunity to transfer the bishop to theological sem- inary where he would have no opportunity to pollute the church anymore. He called on the leadership of the church to intervene in the matter before it gets out of hand.
Another protester, who iden- tified himself as Chimamkpa, decried the manner Otti’s nine years rein as the bishop of the diocese had reduced the Angli- can Church to laughing stock with many leaving the church in droves for nearby diocese like Oru and Owerri or other denominations over his malad- ministration.
The protesters maintained that their protest was to demon- strate support and solidarity to the persecuted priests.
Orient Daily gathered that the crux of the matter was that the bishop accused the priests of withholding monies they were supposed to pay to the diocese from their parishes, an action the bishop viewed as gross mis- conduct and disobedience.
When the situation con-
tinued, the bishop was said to have demanded that the priests return their ordination certificates to him and cease to be priests of the Anglican Church, a demand the priests refused to obey because they were said to be owed salaries by the bishop.
The disobedience, it was learnt, led to the Bishop issu- ing quit notice to the priests to vacate the premises of the churches where they hitherto presided.
Reacting separately, the three priests said they were registered ordained priests from Owerri Diocese, point- ing out that surrendering their certificates and licences could mean that they had been sacked from the church.
They expressed worry over the continued silence of the Anglican Primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh on the matter. They accused the bishop of taking laws into his hands by not waiting for the intervention of the Anglican Primate.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the bishop proved abortive as security guards around the cathedral said he travelled.