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Security Beefed Up In Churches …As robbers launch serial attacks on Catholic parishes in Imo



The Catholic Archdiocese of Owerri has strengthened security in parishes following series of robbery incidents in parishes and church institutions in the archdiocese. Priests  have been on alert as men of the underworld seemed to have sworn to make the rectory their primary target.  Within the past three months, robbers have attacked not less than six parishes in the Archdiocese. Just last week, a car belonging to one of the newly ordained priests was snatched at gun point.  Investigations however revealed that the serial robbery attacks have been targeted mostly at the clergy working in Mbaitoli zone of the Archdiocese.  Apart from Holy Rosary Hospital Emekuku,  Immaculate Heart Akwakuma, St. Joseph’s Ulakwo and St. Anthony’s Parish Inyishi, which were visited earlier in the year, all the four parishes and their priests attacked between mid-June and July are in Mbaitoli zone

The first in the series of attack took place on Sunday, June 16 when the hoodlums descended on the parish priest of St. Hilary Amaukwu Orodo.  The priest told THE LEADER that the robbers trailed him to his bedroom at about 11pm; ransacked the entire parish house for more than three hours, carted away every valuable that belonged to the priest and gave him the beating of his life. The priest in question has been in hospital till the time of press.

Next on the robbers’ list was St. Mary’s Ubomiri on Sunday, June 23, a week after Amaukwu, Orodo was touched. Their efforts were thwarted when the parish priest alerted the security operatives.

The assistant parish priest of St. Peter’s Awo Mbieri had his own share of the experience.  Robbers trailed and snatched his Toyota Camry car at gun point as he was about to enter the parish house on Wednesday, July 3.  Speaking to THE LEADER, the visibly shaken priest narrated how the robbers followed him on a bike from Nworieubi junction that evening.

He said the armed robbers were three in number. While two alighted from the bike and harassed him, threatening to shoot if he failed to surrender the car, the other sped off on the motorcycle.  They eventually succeeded and zoomed off with the car which has not been recovered till the time of filing this report.

The latest robbery attack was at Stella Maris Parish Orodo.  At exactly 12.06am on Monday, July 8, the gang of about seven robbers descended on the rectory.  According to the parish priest, the measures they took to gain entrance into the Father’s house convinced everyone that they were ready for a showdown.  The robbers stormed into the parish house and tied all the security men to a stake.  Since they could not gain access into the Father’s house through the entrance because of heavy burglarproof, they hacked through the wall.  The robbers spent about thirty minutes with the senior priest ransacking his room and making away with valuable belongings before taking their exit through the entrance of the parish house.

Expressing shock over the incidents, Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Ibeole Vicar General of Owerri Archdiocese said “the Archdiocese can no longer keep quiet and watch her priests molested by hoodlums”. In a chat with The Leader, Fr. Ibeole lamented that some people are no longer afraid to tamper with men of God. He said that “the rectory is a sacred place and must be protected”. The Vicar General maintained that appropriate measures are being taken to beef up security in parishes. He also said that Christ’s faithful must continue to pray for the conversion of criminals in the society.

Parishioners of St. Hilary Amaukwu, Orodo on Friday, July 3, 2013, embarked on a prayer rally and penance seeking God’s intervention.  The men, women and children all clad in black prayed the Rosary and called on God to intervene in the ugly situation.

Speaking to THE LEADER Mr. Matthew Elebor, Chairman of the Parish Council confirmed the robbery and wondered why the house of God would become a place where hoodlums would carry out their nefarious acts.  He said the rally was their way of registering their feelings over the incident and pleading with God to intervene by touching the lives of the robbers.

Our reporter however gathered that the people of the area suspect that the hoodlums or those who aided them are not far from the community.




USAID begins Covid-19 testing in Imo rural areas



USAID averts 25,000 unwanted pregnancies in Ebonyi, Kogi

…Umuagwo Varsity of Agric kicks-off October

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has begun Covid-19 testing in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, “in a bid to reduce the impact of community spread of the virus in the rural areas of the state.

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba disclosed this in Owerri while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the Weekly Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma on Wednesday.

Chief Emelumba said so far, the USAID officials have carried out reasonable number of testing in Njaba LGA and reported that all those tested came out negative and that the council prayed that the result from other Local Government Areas will be the same.

He announced that the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has approved the take off of the Imo State University for Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Umuagwo in October this year.

According to him, the approval underscores the efforts which the Imo State Government ably led by Governor Hope Uzodinma has made towards the establishment of a second university for the state.

Recently, the NUC panel was in Imo State to carry out the necessary verification exercises on the state facilities, human and physical infrastructures.

Mr. Declan Emelumba, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Bernard Ikegwuoha, Commissioner for Health Dr. Damaris Osunkwo and the Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku, informed that the Executive Council is happy that something new is happening in the Education Sector of the State.

Emelumba said that the Imo State University of Science and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo will take off by October when other universities would be resuming for a new academic session.

In the same vein, the Council has approved the immediate relocation of Faculty of Engineering Imo State University Owerri to its permanent site at Okigwe, stressing that Government has put all processes and facilities on ground to ensure the immediate take–off of the faculty.

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Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital



Imo Governor’s aide visits Oziza FM  Staff, Ogechi Iwu in hospital

The Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku has visited Mr. Ogechi Iwu, a journalist with Osiza FM.

The media man is hospitalized at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri over complications from diabetes that led to his right leg being amputated.

Mr. Nwachuku said the visit was to show solidarity on behalf of Governor Uzodimma to his professional colleague, assuring him of their prayers, particularly that of his principal, and the prayers of Mr. Iwu’s numerous friends and well wishers who are touched by his plight.

“I am here on behalf of my principal to associate with him in this time of health challenge and to encourage him not to see the sickness as a death sentence.”

Oge Iwu at fmc

L-R: Chief Akaraonye, Mr. Oguwike Nwachuku with Ogechi Iwu during the visit

Mr. Nwachuku urged Mr. Iwu to continue in the high spirit he saw him and trust God for his total recovery “because healing is a thing of mind and when a sick person is in high spirit the patient gets recovered quickly.”

The spokesman of the Governor promised to bring the plight of the journalist to the attention of his principal, and assured that the Governor will, in his usual manner of one with milk of human sympathy, show concern over Iwu’s plight.

Earlier, Mr. Iwu thanked the CPS/Media Adviser, the State Chairman of NUJ, Imo State, Chief Christopher Akaraonye and other journalists who were on the entourage, for coming to identify with him on his sick bed, and assured that God in his infinite mercy will quicken his recovery.

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Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council



Bishop Ugorji heads IMSU Governing Council

Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has inaugurated a new Governing Council, for the Imo State University, IMSU, Owerri.

At the inauguration ceremony on Monday, August 31, the governor named Most Rev. Lucius Ugorji as the Chairman of the Governing Council and Pro-Chancellor of the University.

Other members of the Council include: Chief Leo Stan Ekeh, Chief Tony Ezenna, Prof. (Ven.) Chinedu Nebo, Sir. Louis Ezeigwe, Chief Engr. Ernest Nwapa, Dr. (Mrs.) Uwandu Uzoma, Ugoeze Victoria Adaku Ekezie, Prof. Adaobi Obasi (Vice Chancellor) and others.

Speaking at the inauguration, Governor Uzodimma said the choice of the members is to infuse fresh air into the university because “It is in dire need to bounce back to reckoning.”
He added that the choice of the members was because they have carved a niche for themselves in their chosen fields of endeavour and that they have earned solid reputation as men and women of substance in their individual trade, indices that qualified them for the appointment.

He challenged the members to bring their reputation to bear on the University, bearing in mind the task for good quality scholarship in Imo State University as well as service to humanity.

The Governor urged the members to deploy their individual accomplishments, excellence, expertise, passion for service as effectively as necessary to actualize the dream of his administration of having a highly reputable University comparable to the best Universities in the World.

He also requested the Council to “restore in words and deeds the motto of Imo State University, which is Excellence in Service”.

“Imo State University currently is a classical example of a failed University,” Governor Uzodimma said but strongly believed that “with a star studded Governing Council such as the one inaugurated there is no doubt that Imo is on the track to realize the dreams of her founding fathers.”

He further enjoined the Council members to quickly hit the ground running and come up with policies and programmes that will reassure Imo people that the University that made them proud 20 years back is on track as he assured them of Government partnership in this regard.

In an acceptance speech, on behalf of the Council, the Chairman, Most Rev. Ugorji who is the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia thanked the Governor for the absolute confidence reposed in them by giving them the assignment and acknowledged that though the task is daunting he has a strong belief that with the calibre of members of the Council and support of the management, staff and students the University will be returned to a centre of excellence which was the dream of the founding fathers.

He said that Imo State University deserves the best and that he and his members as inaugurated will work acidulously to ensure that the target of the governor in making Imo State University one of the best universities in Africa is realised.

He congratulated fellow members and promised that God’s willing, they will not fail the government and people of Imo State.

Present at the inauguration were the Deputy Governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, the Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu, and other members of the expanded State Executive Council.

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