By Ifeoma Ofurum
Some members of the Okorosha masquerade cult recently invaded the premises of St. Peter’s (Ang.) Church, Ezioha, Obiato in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo State where they subjected the resident priest, Rev. Emmanuel Achinebiri, to severe flogging as well as inflicting machete cuts on him.
This prompted irate priests in the Anglican Diocese of Owerri, last Tuesday, to march through the community to protest the indefensible cruelty to their colleague.
Donned in their white soutan, the clerics marched to the palaces of the two traditional rulers in the community – Eze Nwaba and Eze A.U. Chikezie.
They presented their letter of protest to Eze Nwaba through their leader on the occasion, Ven. Ferdy Mbalisi, who said the attack on their colleague was “an attack on all the priests in Owerri Diocese, the Anglican Communion and every priest in the world.”
He lamented that people no longer respect God and his servants, though it is a clear injunction by God in the Bible: “touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm”.
Ven Mbalisi described the Okorosha festival and masquerade as ancient and primitive and against educational and technological growth and development.
He counseled parents to inculcate Christian values in their children from their infancy and the community leaders to let the youths know that the cult is obnoxious and outdated.
While urging the traditional rulers to ensure that the evil cult was brought to an end in the community, he advised the youths to join social activities that have Christian values and to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.
In his response, Eze Nwaba profusely apologized to the priests, assuring that the cult has a bleak future as he withdrew his membership in 2004.
He called for adequate sanctions to be meted out to any erring member of the cult, disclosing that before the commencement of this year’s festival he had warned masquerades not to go near the churches.
Speaking in the same vein, the President-General of Ezioha Amano Community, Mr. Gaius Osuoha, confirmed that the masquerade groups failed to conform to a written agreement on how to behave during festivals in the 2015 edition.
He submitted that no right-thinking person can flog a priest, accusing some hemp-smoking youths of being responsible for such a condemnable act. He assured the priests that such will not happen again as the community was re-strategizing on the issue.
Christian Voice learnt that leaders of the cult have dissociated themselves from the attack on the priest, saying that whoever was responsible should face the music. The police, according to reports, made some arrests after the incident.