It was a black Wednesday last week in Idu, Uruan Local Government Area, as a group of Ekong masquerade came in their numbers and attacked, destroyed properties and wounded worshippers of one of the new generation churches – City of Living Grace Chapel
Incorporated located at Idu, the Local Government Headquarters.
This was made known through the General Overseer of the Church, Apostle Emmanuel Edet while interacting with journalists last week at the Church premises.
He stated that it was on Wednesday at about 11am in the morning when he went to buy some things and on his way back, the Ekong Masquerade Group came in their numbers and attacked him, adding that he and the assisting Pastor of the Church were thoroughly beaten, explaining that it took the intervention of some people to rescue them.
Apostle Edet said when he escaped the hoodlums he put a call across to the Executive Chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, Hon. Henry Udofia and told him about the assault, but the Chairman only responded by giving him some words of advice saying he should not take laws into his hands.
According to Apostle Edet every August his Church observes a 31 day fasting and prayer. Members come in the evenings for prayer sessions. Heclaimed that they have been doing this for the past five years, with good results as God always uses the prayers and fasting to do great things in the lives of the worshippers, community
and the State in general.
He said they also used the programme to pray for intercession of God’s peace in the State, the Nation and the prosperous wellbeing of the people.
Following this tradition, the Church organized the same programme for year 2019, but last Wednesday, at exactly 6:00pm in the evening when worshippers started trooping inside the Church for service, trouble erupted. Some people, about hundred in number reportedly came in to the church hall while the service was ongoing with the Apostle on a pulpit ministering to wreck havoc.
Apostle Edet said the hoodlums were outside destroying all the Aluminium windows, about 18 pairs in number and their generating set. The prayer band continued with their worship session without engaging the mob.
The Church leader maintained that the hoodlums after some time reinforce themselves again and came back in larger numbers, this time y his estimation more than two hundred people. They were accompanied by masqueraders, and other people who disguised their identity by covering themselves. According to
him it was at this time that they came right inside the Church’s hall and attacked worshippers, destroying all the sound instruments, and other church properties including chairs, pulpit furniture, drums, and ceiling finishings. A Toyota highlander SUV parked in the premises of the church was damaged with windscreens, glasses, mirrors and lights broken.
Some people reportedly got injured with machete cuts, as they ran for their safety. Meanwhile some children were reported missing. Eye witnesses say that the hoodlums wanted to set the Church ablaze by putting fire into our generator, but some members hurriedly used sand to quench the fire.
The church leader explained that the matter has been reported to the Police.” By special grace of God, because we are law abiding citizens, and also well-meaning Nigerians, and as a Church, we have reported the situation officially to the Police, we have petitioned the Commissioner of Police and we have also copied the DSS Office, and also copied Executive Chairman of Uruan Local Government Area, and as well the Office of the State Governor ”. He said.
“We are doing this so that
they can come in and be of help, because as Law abiding and peaceful citizens, we cannot take laws into our hands, so we want the appropriate authorities to handle the situation”. Apostle Edet opined.
“The hoodlums, Ekoong Cult Groups are all indigenes of this community and the Village Council of Chiefs of this community is aware of it, because they gave them (the group) permission to operates, they also told us that they got permission from the police. So we want to also find out if the police of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can give permit to such illegal group against the Freedom of Association, Freedom of worship and gathering”. Apostle Edet complained.
The church claimed that they have made contact with the Chairman of the Village Council of Idu Uruan and sent a Church delegation to the Chairman of Idu Village Council of Chiefs. The chiefs promised to inspect the damages done, but as at the time of this report, they have not yet visited the church premises.
The Church leader said further, “We vividly remember that some time ago, the State Government placed a ban on Ekpo Masquerades.”
In his words, “some of these hoodlums have started sending threat messages to our members including me, warning that they are going to kill and destroy us if they will be arrested for the crime. So, on this note we want the Government to come in and help us”. He stated.
He mentioned that the hoodlums have destroyed their properties worth millions of naira in his church.
Also speaking on the matter was the Vice Chairman of
Uruan Local Government Area, Mr. Bassey Bassey who said he was aware of the matter, explaining that he was with a copy of the petition written by the church to the State Commissioner of Police.
The Council Vice Chairman maintained that as government, they are saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties of people within their jurisdiction, pointing out
that few months ago, as a person in charge of peace and conflict resolution in Uruan Local Government Area, he issued a press statement calling on all Masquerade Groups in Uruan Local Government Area to obtain operational permit from the Divisional Police Headquarters in Idu before they can embark on any of their operations within the Local Government Area.
He said he did that so as to curtail the menace and havoc that always occur as a result of operations of these Masquerade Groups every year in Uruan Local Government Area, explaining that when the press statement was issued, people were condemning the decision of the Council.
He used the opportunity to preach religious tolerance, while calling on various religious institutions in the society to always promote peace and unity among themselves.
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) when contacted at press time said the police are aware of the matter, already under investigation.
Meanwhile, the State Government over the weekend has banned the operation of Ekpo Masquerades within Uyo Capital City.