Political Framing Of Abia Catholic Church
THE reports came in quick succession, announcing that the revered Catholic Church may have abdicated its role of spiritual guidance to make a foray into the landmine of politics. Not as an impartial arbiter but as a player and partisan ally, openly aligning with and firing from the frontlines for the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Abia State. It was a very well packaged dummy and sold very brilliantly that even the very elect and the very intelligent were almost deceived:
A group, Catholic Network of Nigeria (CNN) staged a protest weekend in Bende, Bende Local Govt Area of Abia State, calling for the change of the Justices of the Court of Appeal, Owerri, Imo State. According to the group, which is sympathetic to the opposition All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), it has no confidence in Owerri Appeal Court Judges. The placards-carrying group comprising mainly of youths and women alleged that some judges at the Owerri Appeal Court are very close to the tribunal Judges that handled cases from Abia,” —— a national newspaper, Mon, November 30, 2015, page 16.
And another: “A group known as Catholic Network of Nigeria has passed a vote of no confidence on the yet-to-be inaugurated Court of Appeal panel in Owerri that would handle the appeal by the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Dr. Alex Otti against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s victory. The group who staged a protest yesterday in Bende also called on the Chief Justice of the Federation, National Judicial Council and President Muhammadu Buhari to redeploy the appeal court judges at the Owerri Judicial Division. The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions such as, “Catholics are Against Injustice; The Church is Our Hope, etc” – Another Newspaper, Fri, Nov. 27, page 10.
And now the rebuttal: “ Press Release From The Catholic Diocese Of Umuahia – Church And Society: The attention of Catholic Diocese of Umuahia has been drawn to the publication in the Newspaper of November 30, 2015, page 16, on the purported protest in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State calling for change of the Appeal Court Judges in Owerri. For purposes of keeping records straight, we state as follows:
• The Catholic Network of Nigeria does not exist in the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia.
• The Catholic Diocese of Umuahia is not partisan and does not involve herself in any partisan political activity.
• The purported protest as published in the Vanguard of 30th November Nov, 2015 page 16 did not take place in Corpus Christi Parish Bende and we do not know any catechist …
• Finally, we state categorically that the Catholic Diocese of Umuahia dissociates herself from the Catholic Network of Nigeria (CNN) and the purported group protest in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State calling for a change of Appeal Court Judges in Owerri.Signed: Rev. Fr. Dr. Paschal Okey Opara, Coordinator JDPC (Church and Society Department)”
In all intent and purposes, the aim in this plot is to incite the Catholic Church against the Abia State Government and destroy the existing cordial relationship between the church and the state. This is a dangerous trend that must be checkmated. But, before then, the questions arise: why would some people in Abia State get so desperate to the point of exchanging their souls and conscience to frame the church of God? Why would they treat God and the things of God with such disdain? Why framing and blackmailing no other group but the Catholic Church, the Mother of all churches and the leader of Christendom?
Is it the necessity of a situation where all is fair, as in war and love? Are they driving the Machiavellian thesis of the end justifying the means? Must they win this war against natural providence – against the cosmic order of cause and effect? Must they blackmail the Catholic Church? Why passing a vote of no confidence on a body that is not yet constituted? Why denigrating the judiciary and purporting same to be the will of the holy Catholic Church? Why such blasphemy all in the name of power struggle?
It has become obvious that the group is a contraption by desperate politicians whose intention is to use the revered name of the Catholic Church to settle political scores. But, by playing such a ruse, they have taken ambition too far. However, the world knows the Catholic Church to be a non-partisan organization that stands only for social justice, good governance and the progress of society. The Catholic Church respects the rule of law and as a responsible institution; it cannot be instigated into denigrating the sanctity of the judiciary.
Those who are involved in this campaign of calumny have not represented the Catholic Church. They are working for their own selfish interest. But the name of the revered Catholic Church or any other religious body for that matter should not be used as an instrument of political propaganda. This could be disastrous for the country. The church in Nigeria and all well-meaning Catholics all over the world must condemn this devilish act in its entirety and defend the sacred institution of God. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, the Appeal Court and the entire judiciary should ignore the ranting of this faceless group.
• Adindu is the Chief Press Secretary to the Abia Governor.