Posted by News Express | 9 April 2018 | 3,428 times
The traditional rulers in Udi North comprising Eke, Abor, Ebe, Ukana, Awhum, Okpatu, Umulumgbe, Umuoka, Egede, Affa, Akpakwume and Nze communities, have affirmed their opposition to the inclusion of their areas in the proposed Catholic Diocese, insisting that the Status of Eke as a Deanary must be restored.
According to Igwe Chinwendu Onuoha, the traditional ruler of Eke, the abolition of the Deanary Status of Eke was the root of the injustice the people of the zone had suffered since the exit of Bishop Eneje of blessed memory.
He said that Eke was made a Deanary by Eneje and it had enjoyed the status until he left and the succeeding Bishop, Anthony Gbuji, for reasons they did not understand, abolished it and went ahead to create more Deanaries, all being offshoots of Eke Parish.
Recounting the history of Eke as a Parish, Igwe Onuoha said that it was incontrovertible that the Catholic Church first set its foot in Enugu and environs on Eke. He pointed out that Eke later became the parent parish to some other parishes, including the Holy Ghost Cathedral Enugu, which serves as the Diocesan Headquarters, today, as well as other parishes such as Oturkpo, Makurdi, Idah, Abakaliki, etc, which are all Dioceses at the moment.
Also speaking on this, Engr Geoffrey Okolo, a native of Eke, said that it was Chief Onyeama of Eke who invited Bishop Shanahan, who was then resident in Onitsha, to Eke in 1910. He said that from then, Eke became an out station of Onitsha and priests were coming from Onitsha and Aguleri to conduct mass services at Eke until 1912 when Eke became a parish with a resident priest.
Then, Okolo said, Eke became the parent parish for the outstations in Enugu, Abakaliki, Idah, Oturkpo and Makurdi. These out stations were later to become parishes with their own resident priests.
According to him, under Onyeama, who was the paramount ruler of Agbaja Kingdom, the entire communities in Udi and Ezeagu local government areas of today were made to be members of the Catholic Church. This, he said, was the reason the Catholic Church remains the predominant denomination in the areas till date.
He said: “For whatever is the reason for the Catholic Diocesan Headquarters in Enugu, they, the people of Udi North, would not be part of the proposed Udi Diocese.”
Udi North, Okolo said, is made of three regions, namely, Okpatu, Eke and Affa, and it is hoped that these Regions would one day become Deanaries on their way to becoming Dioceses.
On his part, Igwe of Ukana, Tagbo Ubaka, said: “We are asking for little: Return the Status of Eke as a Deanary and leave us as part of Enugu Diocese. Anything short of this is not acceptable to us.”
Geoffrey Nnadi, a leading member of Laity, said that people should be sincere so that peace will reign.
“We cannot run our lives outside our history. Eke is the history of the Catholic Church in this part of Nigeria, including Benue, Kogi, Ebonyi and Enugu,” Nnadi said.
He gave the names of the pioneer priests as Fr. Alloysius Muller, 1910-1914; Fr Joachim Corria, 1915; and Fr. Marcel Gradin, 1915-1919, insisting that the records were there to be checked.
Contributing, Igwe of Awhum, Charles Ugwu, said that old Eke Deanary had no continuity with the proposed Udi Diocese and it would amount to gross injustice to remove them from Enugu Diocese.
Awhum, his community, he said, has common boundary with Abakpa and a part of Trans Ekulu Enugu. Abor, he said, owns a great part of Trans Ekulu, especially the Phase 6 side of it – “Same with Ukana.”
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