Posted by News Express | 4 November 2013 | 5,965 times
The Catholic Archbishop of the Onitsha Archdiocese and the Metropolitan See, Most Rev. Valerian Maduka Okeke, has absolved the Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, and APGA’s standard bearer for the coming gubernatorial election in the state, Chief Willie Obiano, of blame in connection the stampede that claimed 25 lives at the Adoration Ground of St. Dominic Catholic Church Uke in the wee hours of Saturday.
This is even as Senator Chris Ngige, the APC candidate for the Nov. 16 governorship ballot, washed his hands off the tragedy.
Speaking yesterday during a pastoral visit to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Nnokwa Parish, Archbishop Okeke dismissed the rumour that Governor Obi and Chief Obiano’s presence at the prayer night held to mark the celebration of the All Saints Day might have led to the stampede. He declared that there was nothing political about Obi’s presence at the celebration in Uke on the fateful night.
The Archbishop laid the blame squarely on some desperate Anambra politicians seking to acquire power at all cost. He traced the cause of the stampede to a false fire alarm raised by some mischief makers at the Adoration Ground.
Although he refused to name anyone in particular as being culpable for the stampede, the leader of the Catholic Church in Onitsha and its environs with overseeing powers over St. Dominic Catholic Church Uke where the tragedy happened wondered why politicians should not leave the church out of their intense rivalry. “The Church has always been very strict on the separation of issues concerning the liturgy and circular things,” he observed
Archbishop Okeke also revealed that the report he got on the tragic incident showed that Obi and his entourage left the venue at about 3:00 a.m. while the false fire alarm that led to the stampede and death of the innocent took place at about 5:30 – 6:00 a.m.
“If the person or persons that raised that alarm did it for dubious political reasons, may God judge them, but if otherwise, only God knows the truth,” the Archbishop said.
Meanwhile, the APGA National Chairman, Sir Victor Umeh, has called for the immediate arrest of Senator Ngige for allegedly masterminding the stampede that led to the death of 25 worshippers at the Adoration service.
Umeh made the call while speaking with newsmen even as Ngige, while also speaking with newsmen, distanced himself from the tragedy. “I was not there and my supporters do not campaign in the night,” the APC governorship candidate said.
Governor Obi has declared three days mourning while also promising to set up a committee of enquiry into the tragedy.
•Photo shows Gov. Peter Obi (left), with Rev. Fr. Dan Onuorah of St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, Onitsha when the governor visited some of the victims at the hospital.
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