Imo Anglican diocese crisis: worshippers detain Bishop, wife in cathedral

Fresh crisis has erupted in the Anglican Diocese on the Lake, Oguta in Oguta local government area of Imo state,
following what many view as house arrest of Bish­op Chijioke Benjamin Otti, his wife and children by worship­pers of the Cathedral Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Oguta.
The bishop is currently facing the wrath of the worshippers who are hell bent on seeing him removed from the church with allegations of greed and malad­ministration.
Recall that Rt. Rev. Otti had, late last year, dragged three senior priests of the church namely; Ven. Canon Eugene Onwubie; Rev. Eugene Iheana­cho and Ven. Caleb Udom to court for failing to vacate the church premises where they resided with their families and for refusing to submit their or­dination certificates to him.
But, in the latest crisis, the worshippers numbering over 500, comprising members of Christian Fathers Fellowship, women and youth groups and other pious societies in the church last weekend, around 6am, besieged the cathedral in protest and locked up all the entrances to forbid the bishop and members of his family from going out.
The worshippers carried placards with various inscrip­tions such as, “Bishop Otti, we are tired of your administra­tion”; “Diocese on the Lake on fire, please Primate come to our rescue”; “We demand the ordination of Rev Jasper Chik­we”; Our Cathedral Church on heavy financial burden”, “Henceforth, no diocesan activ­ities in the cathedral church”, amongst others to express their grievances.
The crimes of Bishop Otti ac­cording to them, included his inability to adhere to the advice of the leaders of the church, misappropriation of the church fund and his hard-heartedness and high-handedness.
They also accused him of being biased, inconsiderate and au­tocratic over an issue involving one of the priests of the church, Rev. Jasper Chikwe, who, ac­cording to them, was wrongly accused of immoral behavior.
They disclosed that after sev­eral attempts and appeals by the church over the matter, the bishop went ahead to suspend and withhold the expected ordi­nation of the priests without co­gent reason, and vowed to lock the bishop and his family in the cathedral until he showed acts of contrition.
Lady Joy Nnani, Evangelist Sally Ogbonna, Barr. Israel Onyeoyibo and other members of the church who spoke sepa­rately to newsmen during the protest affirmed that the bish­op has derailed from his re­sponsibilities to the church.
They further disclosed that they were protesting primarily for the Primate to know about their plight and do the need­ful by removing him from the church immediately.
“We are protesting because our bishop has failed in his work to attend to our spiritual needs and he has been so hard­hearted. He has also frustrated many of our efforts to move the church forward. Even when we go to plead with him, he refuses our pleas.
“The most of it is that, he is using somebody to frustrate the pastors working here in the church,” Nnani said, adding “how can the bishop remove our priest here, Rev. Jasper Chikwe and stop his ordination? So we are agitating for his recall and ordination.
“By this protest, we want the Primate to hear our voice and we are tired of the bish­op’s administration. He doesn’t forgive. He believes he is Al­pha and Omega as well. If you advise him, he will not take it rather he will choose to do what he wants.
“We are praying to God to change his mind. We love him. He is still our shepherd. If he changes, we continue with him but if he doesn’t want to change, our protest will go on until he is removed.” Evang. Ogbonna added.
“On the moral aspect of it, the church, under Bishop Oti, is not moving the way it ought to be moving.
“His administration is so hard, so inconsiderate and so harsh that the people are overburdened by series of money. Under Bish­op Otti, the emphasis is moving away from Christ to money and this is causing a lot of problems. By this also, the spiritual aspect of the church is dying.” Barr. On­yeoyibo also disclosed.
Efforts made to reach the bishop for his own side of the crisis through his phone proved abortive as the number re­mained unreachable.

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