Priests storm Enugu govt house, protest reverend’s killing

Hundreds of priests of Enugu Catholic Diocese on Friday protested against the murder of Reverend Father Paul Offu.

Offu, the Parish Priest of St. James Greater Catholic Church, was allegedly shot dead on Thursday night by suspected Fulani herdsmen along Ihe-Agbudu Road in the Awgu Local Government Area of the state.

The angry Catholic priests, who marched to the Government House with placards containing various inscriptions such as ‘Enough is enough,’ ‘Government should rise to defend Nigerians,’ ‘Fulani herdsmen should go.’

They also marched through the major streets in the state capital to the police headquarters, chanting “God, save Enugu people from murderous Fulani herdsmen. Enough is enough, government should do something and save us.”

Catholic Diocese of Enugu had through its Twitter handle announced the killing of its priest.

The church wrote “With a deep sense of sorrow, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu announces the tragic death of Rev Fr Paul Offu, who was shot dead on (August 1, 2019) by some hoodlums suspected to be the notorious and murderous Fulani herdsmen, along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu LGA.

“Fr. Offu hailed from Okpatu in Udi LGA of Enugu State and until his death, was the parish priest of St. James the Greater Parish, Ugbawka. May perpetual light shine upon his gentle and illustrious soul.”

Offu’s killing is coming barely five months after Rev. Fr. Clement Ugwu, the parish priest of St Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno, was killed.

Ugwu was kidnapped on March 20, 2019 and his decomposing body was found in a bush after one week.

Communication’s Director, Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, told our correspondent on the telephone, that Offu was killed by Fulani herdsmen.

He said, “Fr. Offu was stopped by the murderous herdsmen while returning to his parish after a visit to his priest friend along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu LGA. They dragged him to the bush and killed him.”

While lamenting that Catholic priests were becoming targets of attacks by Fulani herdsmen in Enugu, Fr. Achi said that another priest, Rev. Fr.Paulinus Ilo, who was shot in the ankle by suspected Fulani herdsmen along Numeh-Nenwe Road in the Nkanu East Local Government Area on July 18, 2019, was still in a hospital.

Meanwhile, the police said they had begun investigation to unravel the cause of the killing.

The state Commissioner of Police, Suleiman Balarabe, said the government had given three days ultimatum to anybody in possession of illegal firearms to surrender them to a joint security committee that had been established.

Balarabe condemned the killing of the cleric, adding that security agencies would deploy air surveillance in all the forests in the state with a view to fishing out criminals and killers of the priest.