From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Suspected members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) sit-at-home enforcers on Tuesday disrupted morning Mass at St Theresa Catholic Church, Awada near Onitsha in Anambra State.
The hoodlums who stormed the church premises around 5:45 am, with masks and weapons, including sticks and petrol, forcefully dispersed the parishioners.
The priests, church members; young and old reportedly scampered for safety with some women abandoning their children as they ran for their lives.
One of the parishioners who spoke on condition of anonymity said the hoodlums had queried why the church would hold service the same day IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu was to appear in court.
She however said the hoodlums were tactically dismissed by the priest who claimed they were there to pray for Kanu’s release.
“This morning, I went for early mass in my parish, St. Theresa Awada, close to Ukegbu junction when the boys stormed the church and asked why we were in the church.
“Halfway into the mass, a group of boys entered inside the church. They were carrying sticks and weapons, including fuel. Angrily, they approached the priest asking him why he was celebrating Mass on a day their leader was going to court for trial.
“Everybody took to their heels. There would have been a stampede because so many people were in the church. Those with children abandoned their kids and fled.
“I ran to a building beside the church, even though my house was close by.
“Fr. Joseph diplomatically responded to them that we were in church to pray for the release of Kanu in the court today.
“After convincing them that they were for them, they requested that everyone should return back.
“But I decided not to come back because my heart was still panting. But some others who were braver than me returned before the boys left. But the boys before leaving apologized to the priest.”
“I’ve never had this experience in my entire life. An elderly woman was screaming, “please don’t kill me, I have BP.” he stated.
However, the same boys at Awada junction apprehended a tricyclist, beat him up and set ablaze his machine for moving around during the sit at home.