*My contact with slain Catholic priest -Fr. Mbata
From Petrus Obi, Enugu
A week after Fulani herdsmen attacked them, fleeing residents of Ndiagu Attakwu, Akagbeugwu of Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State are yet to return to their homes while their community remains deserted.
Although the community is now calm with the heavy presence of security agents, the Ogbo Nwarum family who lost a Catholic seminarian, Lazarus Nwafor, who was resident in the community as well as the grandmother, Ifeoma Agbo, may have fled the community for fear.
The late Seminarian, Lazarus Nwafor who hailed from Orlu in Imo State was a day student of Spiritan International School of Theology, Attakwu before the invading herdsmen killed him. He had concluded his apostolic work at St. Patricks Catholic Church, Amagu, and travelled for holidays. It was the same day he returned from the holiday that the herdsmen attacked the house he was living in Attakwu.
He reportedly heard a noise, rushed out of his room but was stabbed to death by the invaders who also stabbed four others out of which one of them had also given up the ghost in the hospital.
Efforts to speak with the authority of the Spiritan International School of Theology on their slain student failed as the school, which is currently on holidays was also deserted.
Saturday Sun was however, able to locate the Parish Priest of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Amagu, Akagbeugwu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Mbata who confirmed working with the deceased seminarian for about five weeks. The priest however, gave a new twist to the incident when he said he did not even know the name of the seminarian until his death.
According to him; “the only day I knew his name was the day he died; I didn’t know his name; you may be surprised; so the thing happened and they informed us. I didn’t know his congregation. As a matter of fact, I was thinking he came with one of the Rev. Fathers from the seminary; I thought he was a member of that community, but I was surprised that a member of the community would have such time because he was always coming to the church.
“I didn’t know his name until the day he died; I didn’t know where he lived until the day he died. I saw him as a good boy, because he did his apostolic work for about four to five weeks; but he wasn’t living here with me; he never lived here. He lived in the village there.”
Fr. Mbata said that there were two seminarians who worked with him; “one of the seminarians was officially sent to me, while the other came on a private arrangement. I requested him to get permission from his leader and he returned and hinted me that his leader had approved and I accepted him and he started working here. They gave him a place he stayed and from there he was always going to where he lived at Attakwu.
“When I found out he was from Orlu in Imo State, was at a time when one of the boys who was close to him told me; because his language showed he wasn’t from here. I cannot tell what happened; I was here in the morning and the news came that Fulani herdsmen attacked and he was killed.
“It affected a priest; and to lose a priest is a very big loss because it takes so much to train a Catholic priest.
“He told me their leader stays in Asaba; I don’t know him, but he is a priest. I requested him to get his permission to stay with us for some time and he came back to report that he granted him the permission. I don’t even know the man but he is a priest. That’s the much I know about him.
“According to reports there are so many of them living around there in Attakwu who are outside students of Spiritan International School of Theology. You know you cannot go there as a private candidate, a group must send you; so as other groups were sending their boys his group sent him. That’s why they were like day students; they study and go back; feed themselves and do every other thing themselves.