The Imo State Government has apologised to the Anglican Church over the invasion of St Peters Anglican Church, Eziama Obaire, in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state.
The state Police Command confirmed on Sunday the arrest of a former governorship candidate of the Action Alliance (AA), Chief Uche Nwosu, who is son in-law to a former governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha.
Nwosu, who was reportedly whisked away by gunmen in military uniform at the St. Peters Anglican Church,Eziama Obaire, was arrested while attending an outing church service after the burial of his mother, who was committed to mother earth within the week.
An eyewitness said, the gunmen who came with a military van fired live bullets in the air and at the church building before carrying out their main task.
However, a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, condemned the action of the police, and pointed out that some people were hiding under the incident to whip up public sentiments.
According to the statement, “the plan is to de-emphasise the possible criminality behind his arrest by playing up the desecration of a church.
“For the avoidance of doubt, while the government believes that no stone should be spared in the effort to rid the state of criminality and banditry, it will not support any form of disrespect for a place of worship by security agencies.
“In this regard, the arrest of Mr Nwosu within the church premises could have been avoided therefore stands condemned.
“While government regrets the manner the arrest was made, we wish to emphasise that since it was purely a security matter, the full reason why such an action was taken will eventually unfold and perhaps guide the public better,” Emelumba stated.
“Government, therefore, wishes to appeal to those negatively affected by the action to bear with the security agencies.
“His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, holds the Anglican Communion in very high esteem and will never support any act that will disrespect her reverential status as a place of divine worship.
“Government will continue to protect the interest of citizens of the state while not impeding the work of security agencies,” Emelumba assured.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) also apologised to the church through its chairman, Reverend Divine Eches.
“As the umbrella body of Christians in the state, we support efforts by security agencies to bring any person fingered of involvement in any form of criminality in the state to book. But the security agencies must be mindful of their mode of operations to avoid offending the sensitivities of our people and unwittingly giving detractors the opportunity to rubish their good works,” Eches stated.
The former governor of Imo state and the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District, Rochas Okorocha, had earlier said he would wait for 24 hours for the police to release officially the offence of his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, who was arrested last Sunday.
Okorocha noted that 24 hours was enough legally for the police to make public the offence of Nwosu and failure to do that he (Okorocha) would take legal action to demand his release.
He had said, “I am going to wait for 24 hours to know what Nwosu has done. We want to know his offences. 24 hours is enough for the police to do that which is legal. They should let the world know about his offences and failure to do that I will take legal action to demand his release.”