To Reverend Father Peter Udo, a Catholic priest, last weekend was one filled with ill luck as he was allegedly beaten to a comatose state by security aides attached to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
The priest’s offence was that he refused to get off the road when Oshiomhole and his Lagos State counterpart, Babatunde Fasola’s convoy drove along Amendokhian- Ugboha Road to commission it.
Udo, who hails from Ujogba, Esan West Local Government Area of Edo State, was said to have been on his way to his parish, St. Dennis Catholic Church, Ugboha, Esan Southeast, when he encountered the governor’s convoy.
A source close to the Catholic Diocese of Uromi disclosed that the priest is now receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital due to the heavy beating he received from the security aides of the governor.
According to the source, “It is true that one of our priests, Reverend Father Peter Udo, who is in charge of St. Dennis Catholic Church Parish in Ugboha was beaten into a state of coma by aides to Governor Oshiomhole along Amendokhian-Ugboha Road when he went to commission the road.
“From what we gathered, the offence of the priest was that he did not jump into the bush for the governor’s convoy to pass. He was humiliated even in his cassock. At the appropriate time, the Catholic Diocese of Uromi will react.”
When contacted on the phone, Reverend Father Stephen Okojie, Director, Benin Archdiocese Directorate of Communication, said he was yet to receive such information.
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Peter Okhiria, denied the beating of any Catholic priest by the governor’s aides, describing the report as not only malicious and wicked, but one which portrayed the source as the “devil’s advocate”.
In a statement he signed and made available to THISDAY, Okhiria said: “We received with great shock the concocted news that was reported by Independent Television (ITV) owned by a PDP chieftain, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, stating that the governor’s aides beat up a reverend father at Ujogba.
“The said report is not only callous, malicious and wicked, but clearly portrays ITV and its proprietor as the devil’s advocates who churn out falsehood to denigrate the Oshiomhole administration.”
According to him, “While we state that the governor was never at Ujogba as reported by the TV station, the governor, Adams Oshiomhole, is known to be proudly Catholic and has boasted about his faith at many fora.
“The state deputy governor, Rt. Hon. Pius Odubu, is also a practising Catholic as well as the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Uyi Igbe.
“It is a fact that the governor enjoys a robust relationship with the Catholic Church more so as a baptised practising Catholic. He is also in good standing with the archbishop, priests and laity of the Benin City Archdiocese, Auchi Diocese and Uromi Diocese.
“The governor, as the father of everybody in the state, would never encourage anyone to beat up anybody, let alone directing that a priest of God, from whom he receives the Holy Communion, be beaten up.”
Okhiria further argued that if the purported incident as reported by ITV was correct, why has the church, which has unfettered access to the governor, not reported the incident?
“To the best of our knowledge, the ITV report was deliberately fabricated to promote hate sentiments against the governor by the Catholic faithful.
“It is however heartwarming that the Catholic Church was able to see through this deliberate deception, utter blackmail and wicked machinations of the ITV.
“In spite of this crude attempt to rubbish the governor because of his faith, he renews his commitment to the Catholic Church, to all Catholics, all Christians and indeed people of all faith in the state.
“We use this medium to call on ITV to retract the said offensive report and tender an unreserved apology to the governor through the same station for dragging the governor’s name into a matter totally unconnected to him,” he stated.