Worshippers at St Dominic’s Catholic Church, Adazi Enu, Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State were shocked on Friday when a US-based Catholic priest, Rev. Father Mike Steve Ezeatu, descended on a 70-year-old man and beat him blue black.
Parishioners told Southern City News that the priest had finished celebrating a funeral mass and was about entering his SUV when he sighted the old man identified as Innocent Nwolisa and beckoned on him to come closer.
Obeying the call, Nwolisa approached the cleric, who descended on him, accusing the old man of charming him while he was celebrating mass on the pulpit.
Narrating the story, the first son of the victim, Ebuka Nwolisa, said his father was about to leave the compound of Ifedigbo in Ugweni Ojii, where the funeral mass of one late Ifeoma Ifedigbo, had just been celebrated by Ezeatu, when he was called back by the priest
“I think my father went because we are related to the priest and they know each other. My father thought the priest might be calling him to give him special blessing, but what he got was a beating.
“The only saving grace he (reverend father) had was that I was not around; that was why he got way with his action,” an angry Ebuka explained.
Another eyewitness, Mr. Arinze Ezeatu, who is a younger brother of the priest said, “Father Mike complained that the old man was releasing evil powers on him while he was at the altar celebrating the mass, and that was the reason for his action.
Arinze and Olisa Ezeatu, both younger and elder brothers of the priest, maintained that it was not true that Nwolisa was releasing evil powers on him, but that the reverend father was suspecting that the old man may have supported his brothers, whom the priest has for long been at loggerheads with over land.
According to them, “The priest is our brother, but he is more like a curse to us than a blessing. He is based in the US, and can be described as a businessman than a clergy. Because he has money, he has grabbed all our land and we have been in dispute with him.
“We have even reported him to the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Reverend Paulinus Ezeokafor, yet he has not let go. The man he beat up is an elder in our extended family, and he has been advising the priest to relinquish the land to us and even settle our rift.
“We think he simply suspected that the man has started siding us after knowing the truth. That is why he beat him up on Friday after celebrating mass.”
Meanwhile, Ebuka the first son of the victim, who led his younger brother to the resident Parish priest of St Dominic’s parish to complain about the incident, told Southern City News that his father was recovering.
When Southern City News contacted Mr. Abuchi Onwumelu, the Press Secretary to the Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev, Paulinus Ezeokafor, he (Onwumelu) declined comment.