Catholic Church and Ebonyi government disagree on priest’s detention

The Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki overthrew the Ebonyi State government on Monday over an alleged executive decree that extended the detention of one of its priests, Rev. Fr. Timothée Ngwuta.

Ngwuta was arrested and imprisoned for allegedly encouraging the protracted Effium/Ezza Effium intercommunal war.

The Catholic Church, through its Chancellor, Fr. Matthew Opoke, said the so-called executive order put in place by the state government prevents any state court from considering matters relating to the Efdium crisis, which claimed many lives and led to the destruction of property worth billions of naira.

However, the state government, through its Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chief Cletus Ofoke, rejected the Church’s claims.

Ngwuta was first arrested by police on December 11, 2021 and held for twelve days and released on bail due to health issues stemming from his allegations of torture by security guards in custody.

He was rearrested on Tuesday, March 8, 2022, indicted on March 11, 2022 for alleged kidnapping and murder, and remanded to the Abakaliki Correctional Center. Since then, he has languished in detention at the Correctional Center.

A statement released by the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki and signed by its Chancellor, Fr. , in conscience, declared before his bishop, that the accusations are entirely false, shall not be punished for offenses of which he knows nothing. in regards to.

“Efforts to secure his bail have been hampered by the executive order preventing any state court from hearing matters relating to the Efdium crisis. Recently, the request for bail was denied on April 12, 2022. We implore all people of good will to join us in praying to God to touch those responsible for Fr. Timothée’s incarceration to hear the voice of the right consciousness.

But in a swift reaction, State Attorney General and Justice Commissioner Chief Ofoke said, “There is no such thing as an executive order on the Effium crisis.

“There is nothing to that effect. Of course, the government can never issue an order preventing the court from doing its lawful duty. It is aimed at tarnishing someone’s image and slandering the government. It does not there is nothing like it.

“Once a case is before the courts, no one talks about it except for the legal process to follow its course. This was done by the Ebonyi State government and the government has no influence on Priest’s case. The priest’s case is purely a legal matter from the police to court.

“So nothing concerns the government of Ebonyi State and it is not just the priest who is incarcerated for this matter there in Effium. People know that so many people have been brought to justice; some some of them are in prison, and some of them are being tried in court, so the priest is also a human being.

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