By Oguwike Nwachuku
The arrest, Sunday, December 26 of the former governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Mr. Uche Nwosu, a son in-law to former Governor Rochas Okorocha, by security operatives has thrown up familiar issues in Imo State polity – lies, propaganda, abuses, insults and blackmail. When the news broke that Nwosu, one time Chief of Staff to Okorocha had been picked up by the police working on a critical case of alleged sponsorship of bandits and generally, insecurity in Imo, the sentiment of where he was picked up – the Church premises and the manner of his arrest – became the issue. Pronto, the social media platforms were awash with the incident that happened at the Church premises and relying on their own imagination, dished out wrong reportage that those who came for Nwosu were kidnappers hence he was abducted. Only few credible traditional and online newspapers had the discipline to tarry a while to know whether Nwosu had actually been kidnapped or abducted in the Church.
And it really turned out to be that Nwosu was arrested by the police at the St. Peter’s Anglican Church Eziama Obaire in Nkwerre local government area of Imo State and neither abducted nor kidnapped. The police who arrested him said they had long invited Nwosu to their office to answer questions on allegations of sponsoring of kidnappers and bandits and generally, insecurity in Imo State. The police dismissed the abduction/ kidnap saga in a statement by the Imo State Police Command signed by the spokesman, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Michael Abatam. “This is to inform the general public that Chief Uche Nwosu was not kidnapped but was arrested by the police and Imo State Police Command is aware of the arrest and presently he is in police custody. “This is to refute the earlier news that has been making rounds on social media that he was kidnapped by unknown persons /gunmen. “The Commissioner of Police while using this medium to assure Imolites of the command’s commitment in ensuring the safety of life and prosperity this yuletide season, advised the general public to always shun fake news.” Having lost the initial propaganda to make Nwosu’s arrest look like abduction or kidnap after police came out to clear the air, the wailing choristers resorted to pursuing the second leg of the propaganda and blackmail over the incident which was the venue of his arrest – the Church. Before you could say Jack, the venue of Nwosu’s arrest started gathering potency, so much so that by the close of business on Monday, December 27, every Tom, Dick and Harry had “the desecration of the Church” with the arrest on their lips. Shortly, I would like to ask how? The Church in Imo State has over the years become a potent tool for politicking. The clergy, the laity and the congregants have wittingly or unwittingly got sunk into the melodrama that the Church provides for politicians to undermine each other. In most cases, that is done along the line of Catholic/Anglican/ Pentecostal divides. Rather than a Santuary of God that the Church ought to be, many now see the place as a Santuary of sorts – politics, criminality, blackmail, propaganda, slander, cult activities among others. The promise of God’s grace becomes everybody’s defence. Unfortunately, we forget too soon the biblical injunction in Romans 6:1 which says, “Shall we then continue in sin that grace may abound?” for which Paul said, “God forbid (Romans 6:2).”
As a Christian of Anglican extraction, I look forward to Churches where criminals will go to and sincerely repent of their criminality and sins, surrendering whole heartedly to God and requesting prayers from the Reverend Father in charge of the Church. If we hear that there are Churches where bandits, kidnappers, murderers and others quietly go to repent and atone for their crimes and misdeeds against fellow human beings that Church will automatically turn to a place for Pilgrimage. Or have we forgotten that we are told that there is joy in heaven when one sinner repents? I do not think a Church, a dwelling place for God, holy, reserved and pious arena deserves to be Santuary for those who want to mock God by glaringly coming to the place to challenge God’s Omnipotence, perhaps due to their network of social standing, affluence, cult links, criminal tendencies et al. The unfortunate incident that took place in the premises of St. Peter’s Anglican Church Eziama Obaire in Nkwerre where Nwosu was arrested should rather challenge our intuition, both as Church leaders, laity and congregants of different faiths and as Christians. It provides us with the opportunity for soul searching and re-examination of ourselves and our relationship with God. I used the word “unfortunate” advisedly because no good Christian would love to be associated with a humiliation in the Sanctuary of God. In other words, a good Christian would always want to do things in and out of the Church that would bring glory to God’s name and respect for His Sanctuary. Any Christian who takes to criminality and more so, murderous acts, directly or indirectly taking lives he or she did not create, has automatically defamed the name of God and mocks His place of Worship. Such a person also loses the morals to say he or she is in the place of God for worship. Can we sincerely absolve ourselves from the aforesaid even as we shout desecration of the House of God on top of our voices? It would be infra-dig not to appreciate the position some top ranking leaders of Churches have taken, similar to that of the Government, on the incident that took place at the afore mentioned Church.
I want to believe that what Most Rev (Dr.) David Onuoha, the Anglican Archbishop of Ecclesiastical Province of Owerri, the Most Rev Augustine Ukwuoma, the Catholic Bishop of Orlu Diocese, the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Imo State, Dr. Eches Divine Eches among others have said must have pricked our consciences enough and provided the security agencies the needed panacea to deal with similar cases in future. I want to thank them most sincerely for the position they have taken. I must also thank the Government for blaming the security agencies where necessary. It shows that the government of Senator Hope Uzodimma does not play to the gallery. I am optimistic that the security agencies involved in criminal justice matters will, going forward, be properly guided. However, truth is that abnormal cases happen and in most cases circumstances propel such happenstance. The question is – are there things expected of us to do that can minimise or even stop those abnormal things from taking place? Like Archbishop Onuoha pointed out, it has taken 160 years for what happened at the Church to occur. Does that not speak to the type of Christians we are called today?
Nwachuku, is Governor Uzodimma’s Chief Press Secretary /Special Adviser (Media)