The Catholic Priests of Aji deanery, led by the Dean, Rev Fr Thaddeus Ukwueze, have on Tuesday, 5th April 2022 expressed their inconveniences in pastoral services to God’s people as a result of the unguided activities of some young boys who claim to be masquerades. This very reaction was directed to the local government chairman of Igboeze North, Engr. Williams Ejike Itodo in his office at Ogrute Enugu Ezike.
The crux of the matter was analysed by the Parish Priest of St Mary’s Umuagamah, Very Rev Fr Dr Sonde Okwor, in whose parish, the menace took place. According to him, these young boys that claim to be masquerades at Umuagamah have caused too many harms with no good. To mention but a few. On Friday, 2nd April 2022, they flogged the seminarian (Mr Christopher Egwuete) working in his parish, and nothing was done about it. This unwelcome tolerance skyrocketed the pressure upon the people of God in the name of masquerade activities. Worse still, the monk, apostle Paul who brought Pascal candle to the Parish was also flogged even when he tried to introduce himself to them as a monk. As the Parish Priest, Very Rev Fr Dr Sonde Okwor, and some church members were on their way to complain to the Igwe of Umuagamah community, they encountered another horrible beating by same ‘masquerades’ upon a widower from Imufu, whom these young boys destroyed his food items. The next day, it was reported that a masquerade flogged the boy inside the car of the Parish Priest, when they went to buy fuel.
Against the backdrop of this mayhem, the Parish Priest had to put a spiritual pressure in which he stopped celebrating Mass in the church but in the father’s house. This was intended to attract the concern of the faithful towards addressing this inordinate act. The Stations of the cross on the following Friday, was conducted with women wearing black in expression of their grievances against this misdemeanor.
Although the Fr. bishop, Most Rev Godfrey Igwebuike Onah was Interested in treating the issue, he was informed that the local government chairman was already attending to the case. This therefore necessitated the Priests in Aji deanery to reach out to the LG chairman in an attempt to have a lasting solution to this mess. This is predicated on the fact that if this is not handled appropriately, more troubles will be caused by these young boys. Besides, it was also reported that an elderly man was beaten by a masquerade at Isiugwu. The above report was concluded with a question thrown to the LG chairman. Is there any means to control or even prevent the presence of masquerade along the roads?
The Local Government chairman, Engr Williams Ejike Itodo, in response to the above report, thanked the priests for making out time for this move towards ensuring peace and development in the communities that is under his care. He also remarked that he never had the awful experience of the Parish Priest of Umuagamah and immediately sympathized for the ugly incidence. However, he highlighted that a committee has been set up to see to the end of this religious misunderstanding when a Christian became the eldest at Umuiyida. He also observed that it is the failure of leadership that has led to the menace of masquerade activities in various communities. Meanwhile, he had employed his security men to stop the activities of masquerade at Umuagamah until they set up a formidable committee that can ensure order in their celebrations. He also request that the Parish Priest of Umuagmah should please exercise patience and promised that whatever condition pleasing for evangelization, should be imbibed by the committee, who will definitely refer to him (the Parish Priest) for a peaceful dialogue.
Finally he maintained that there are efforts on top gear towards stopping any masquerade found along the roads. Such that any found, will be properly arrested. In his words, if he tries his best in using dialogue, and they don’t comply, necessary measures will be taken by the government. The discussion ended satisfactorily as Rev Fr Thomas Mkpume was invited to articulate words of appreciation to the chairman on behalf of the Priests in attendance.