How priest warded off mayhem as IPOB gunmen stormed Catholic church during mass

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IPOB members enforcing the sit-at-home order Anambra stormed a Catholic church in Onitsha, demanding why they held a mass while IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu was heading to court in Abuja Tuesday morning.

The National Daily reported Kanu is facing fresh charges of terrorism, and he had to enter his defence afresh.

The worshipers were said to have panicked as the outlawed group challenged the priest in charge Fr. Joseph.

A worshiper told the Daily Trust the priest had to be diplomatic in handling the confrontation.

“This morning I went for the 5:30am morning mass in my church at St Theresa of Kalkuta Parish in Awada, it is close to Ukaegbu junction,’ he told the newspaper.

“We were half way into the mass when some group of boys suspected to be members of IPOB entered the church. They were carrying sticks and even fuel. They went straight to the altar and were almost half-way there.

“They approached our parish priest, Rev Fr Joseph, and asked him why he was celebrating mass on a day when their leader was going to court. They were quite a number of them who were visibly angry.

“Everybody in the church took to their heels. There would have been a stampede because there were a lot of people at mass today. I ran to a building close to the church.

“Father Joseph told them we were holding mass today to pray for the release of Nnamdi Kanu. He used diplomacy, and even asked them if they were really for Ndi Igbo or Against Ndi Igbo? They now said okay, that if so, the people in the church were for them.

Having heard what they wanted to hear, the group fell back and headed out.

But on their way out, they saw a tricycle parked in the open where no one could venture out.

“They beat up the man and burnt his tricycle,” he said.