From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
The family of Most Rev. Alexander Ibezim, Anglican Archbishop, Province of the Niger, and Bishop of Awka Diocese, recently rolled out the drums to celebrate his 10th anniversary as a bishop as well as his first anniversary as Archbishop, Ecclesiastical Province of the Niger.
The anniversary was marked with a Holy Communion and thanksgiving service at Our Saviour’s Church, Emmaus House, Awka, and it was graced by members of the clergy and laity in the diocese.
Before then, the prelate had marked his 58th birthday at the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Amawbia, in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State, with four bishops in attendance.
Both the 10th anniversary and the birthday celebrations were done in a lowkey manner because of the COVID-19 protocols restricting large gatherings in the state.
Ibezim was consecrated bishop on Sunday, September 12, 2010, at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Asaba, the Delta State capital. He assumed office as the bishop of the Diocese of Awka on Monday, November 22, 2010.
In 2019, Ibezim was elected the Archbishop of the Province of the Niger at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Cathedral, Lagos, and was presented on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, at the same Cathedral Church of St. Peter, Asaba.
At his birthday celebration, Ibezim narrated how God saved him and his family from the hands of hired assassins.
He said suspected hired assassins sneaked into his compound, hid in a chapel attached to his house and waited for the opportunity to carry out their evil intentions.
Ibezim said: “Last year, before I was elected the Archbishop of the province, I was attacked in this compound. Some people came and stayed in the chapel (waiting) for me for some days. But today God has given us another year. It is not by power or by might but by the Spirit of God. So, the will of man cannot prevail in my life, but the will of the Almighty God.
“So, God, who spared our lives, knows why He spared our lives. If they had succeeded, I would never have been the Archbishop, and Satan would have taken over. This is because whoever wants to kill somebody in order to take over is Satan. And when Satan rules a place, all the people will be in bondage.
“So, it is a testimony that we are sharing. God saved us from hired assassins, from wicked people, from unfriendly friends.”
Ibezim, whose fenced residence is within a much larger compound that also has a gate, wondered how the suspects beat all the tight security points at the two gates to gain entrance into his house.
“We have security men in this compound; up to four of them were armed in this compound and yet they did that. The God of heaven who spared my life will continue to spare my life because God called me. Nobody called me. I have no apology for any individual.”
Speaking during his 10th anniversary celebration as bishop, Ibezim called for increased security in the country, particularly in the South-East.
His wife, Chioma Ibezim, who is the president of the Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild, and Girls’ Guild, thanked God and the members of Anglican Communion in the state for their support and encouragement.
In a sermon, the Awka Diocesan Synod secretary, Ven. Clement Mgbemena, commended the archbishop for his achievements since he assumed office, noting that the cleric had boosted evangelism in the diocese.
He noted that 1987, 2010 and 2020 were remarkable dates in the history of the diocese as it recorded its birth, the year the first episcopacy and archiepiscopacy stopped and the 10 years celebration of the second episcopacy and archiepiscopacy.
Deputy comptroller of the correctional centre, Mr. Edwin Akabueze, thanked the archbishop for the visit, saying it would make impact on the lives of inmates and officials of the facility.
The bishop of Eha-Amufu Diocese, Rt. Rev. Daniel Nkemjika Olinya, prayed for Ibezim and his family, the state and Nigeria as a whole. “It pleases the Lord when one cares for the downtrodden, the poor and the destitute,” the bishop noted.
The bishop of Bauchi Diocese, Rt. Revd Musa Mwin-Tula, reassured the inmates that they would regain their freedom at the appointed time. He told them to utilise their stay in the facility to reflect on their lives and make amends where necessary.