Anglican bishops flee Anambra over IPOB’s threat
The five-day meeting of the bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) taking place in Awka, Anambra State ended abruptly on Wednesday.
This, our correspondent gathered, was as a result of the fear that the 170 bishops attending the meeting could be trapped because of the sit-at-home protest declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra to hold on September 23.
The conference was scheduled to end on Friday.
The Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicolas Okoh, had earlier in the conference expressed fear that the bishops could be trapped in the state should their meeting go on as scheduled.
He had asked the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, to prevail on IPOB members to shelve their Friday protest so that the bishops’ conference could go on.
He said the IPOB sit-at-home protest would hamper their activities and movement.
Okoh implored the pro-Biafran agitators to postpone their action until after the end of the bishops’ conference.
IPOB had threatened that markets, banks and other institutions would be shut down on Friday, while movement would be restricted in the South-East geopolitical zone and beyond as a protest against the continued detention of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Federal Government.
“We are not against whatever their agitations are, but we ask them to wait until we leave Awka on Friday.
“If they go on to carry out that protest, we may be trapped in Anambra as the Niger Bridge is the only exit from Anambra State.
“So, help us beg them to allow us to go,” the Primate enjoined Obiano.
A delegate who would not want to be named told our correspondent that, “there was no assurance that we were protected. We are human, so we had to put our heads together and decided to cut short the conference.
“That’s the most ideal thing to do in the circumstance.
“I will leave this evening (Wednesday) and most others will do same. Those who can’t make it today will do so early tomorrow (Thursday). There is no need waiting, it doesn’t make sense.”
Meanwhile, the Anglican bishops had in the summit appealed to the Niger Delta militants to stop the bombing of oil facilities in their region in the interest of the country.
This was even as they appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a roundtable meeting with the agitators in order to address their grievances.
The clerics reminded the militants that shutting down the economy of the country would not do anybody any good.
Delivering his address at the conference held at the Cathedral Church of St. Faith, Awka, Okoh appealed to the Federal Government to disarm the Fulani herdsmen who he said had murdered the peace of the country.
The address partly read, “The Standing Committee wishes to make a passionate appeal to the militants to spare our economy and stop the bombing of oil facilities.
“Shutting down the economy is like pulling down the roofs with all of us inside; nobody will escape the negative impact. We equally call on those who can reach them to join in this appeal for the greater good of all.
“The presence of herdsmen in our countryside is not new, they have always been around. What is, however, new are the unprovoked attacks on their host communities sometimes justified by saying that a cow is missing.
“They lay ambush and waylay people going to their farms, rape women and destroy farmlands; and their victims are at their mercy because they are armed.
“We call on the Federal Government to immediately disarm these people in order to return peace to Nigeria.”