From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The Imo State Government has apologised to the Anglican Church and the people of the state who felt slighted by the manner the police invaded St Peters Anglican Church, Eziama Obaire and arrested governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA) Chief Uche Nwosu during a church service on Sunday.
A statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, which condemned the action of the police, also pointed out that some people are hiding under the incident to whip up public sentiments.
According to the statement, ‘the plan is to de-emphasise the possible criminality behind his arrest by playing up the desecration of a church.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, while the government believes that no stone should be spared in the effort to rid the state of criminality and banditry, it will not support any form of disrespect for a place of worship by security agencies.
‘In this regard, the arrest of Mr Nwosu within the church premises could have been avoided and therefore stands condemned.
‘While government regrets the manner the arrest was made we wish to emphasize that since it was purely a security matter, the full reason why such an action was taken will eventually unfold and perhaps guide the public better,’ Emelumba stated.
He continued: ‘Government, therefore, wishes to appeal to those negatively affected by the action to bear with the security agencies.
‘His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, holds the Anglican Communion in very high esteem and will never support any act that will disrespect her reverential status as a place of divine worship.
‘Government will continue to protect the interest of citizens of the state while not impeding the work of security agencies,’ Emelumba assured.
In the same vein, the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) apologised to the church.
Briefing newsmen, the state chairman of CAN, Reverend Divine Eches said: ‘As the umbrella body of Christians in the state, we support efforts by security agencies to bring any person fingered of involvement in any form of criminality in the state to book. But the security agencies must be mindful of their mode of operations to avoid offending the sensitivities of our people and unwittingly giving detractors the opportunity to rubish their good works,’ Eches stated.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Owerri, Most Reverend David Onuoha, has maintained that in as much as the church is not interested in the reason for the invasion, it was particularly perturbed by the trauma it caused the worshippers at the church.
Onuoha said that the church will engage the police in a dialogue to find out the reason for the invasion to avoid a repeat.