Thugs sack church, injure pastor during Benin cultural festival

Thugs sack church, injure pastor during Benin cultural festival

Suspected thugs have sacked a church service and beat up a Pentecostal pastor for violating the restriction of movement order slammed on the residents of Urora Community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State. The bloody clash was between adherents of the Christians faith and African Tradition Religion (ATR) in Benin, disrupted the church

Suspected thugs have sacked a church service and beat up a Pentecostal pastor for violating the restriction of movement order slammed on the residents of Urora Community in Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State.

The bloody clash was between adherents of the Christians faith and African Tradition Religion (ATR) in Benin, disrupted the church (name withheld) service and left some worshippers injured.

Ikpoleki Cultural Festival which began in the 15th Century AD during the reign of Oba Ewuare, the great, is Celebrated by Priests, Priestesses and Enigie (Dukes) ahead of harvest period between September and October yearly, according to modern day reckoning.

Trouble started when some youths who were going round to ensure compliance on restriction of movement order slammed on the residents of Urora Community, invaded one of the churches that was opened for service in the area.

The youths who were said to have acted at the behest of some elders of Urora Community, disrupted the service and drove the presiding pastor and worshippers away with restrained influence and inflame religious division.

BENIN CULTURAL ART WORK

Speaking to newsmen, the pastor of the affected church, Destiny Eguavoen, said they decided to open for service, following the directive of the Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Edo State branch.

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“I was told that they have their Ikpoleki Festival and that we should not open the from 6:00am to 3:00pm on Sunday.

“So we (pastors) held a meeting and resolved that on Sunday is the day of our worship, there is no way they can stop us because of their own worship.

They came to our church at about past 9:00am on Sunday. They said we were supposed to close our service by 8′ O clock.

EDO STATE GOVERNOR, GODWIN OBASEKI

“I was still preaching when they entered the church, destroyed all my property, microphones and other items.

“They injured me on my head and my cloths. They came to the alta. They fought with me. They were dragging me on the alta and that I should leave the church”, he said.

Responding, the Spokesman for Urora Community, Sunday Osagiede, said, “they had an arrangement with churches in the area that they can only open from 6:00am to 9:00am and that they do not expect anyone to violate it.

“We are protecting the outside now to make sure that the place is calm.

“We told pastors to worship between 6:00am to 8:00am. But, we now add additional one hour to round off their activities by 9:00am before Ikpoleki performance starts outside”, he said.

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But, the Spokesman for the Nigeria Police, Edo State Command, Mr Chidi Nwanbuzor in a telephone interview with our Correspondent, said the case was being investigated, adding that “nobody has the right to violate the fundamental human rights of another.

“The activities of the traditionalists should not in anyway prevent the church going on. The church cannot tell the traditionalists not to go on with their festival as well”, he declared.

INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF.POLICE, MOHAMMED ADAMU
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