Robbers Raid 30 Catholic Parishes in 9 Months - Cleric

ROBBERS raided no fewer than 30 Roman Catholic parishes and institutions in the Owerri archdiocese between November 2001 and July this year, Monsignor Theophilus Okere, has disclosed.

Okere told newsmen in Owerri that some of the parishes and institutions were raided twice by the robbers.

Notable among the victims were St Peter Claver Seminary, Okpala, which is the major Catholic institution in the archdiocese; the Seat of Wisdom Seminary at Ulakwo-Obube and the Holy Rosary Hospital, Emekuku, he said.

Okere, who spoke on behalf of the clergy of the archdiocese, called for extra protection for the church and its priests.

He expressed regrets that in virtually all the cases, the police had not shown serious concern in either tracking down the bandits or taking preventive measures to protect the priests from future attacks.

"We as a group are alarmed that further failure by the police to mount some preventive and protective measures will mark us out as easy prey to be attacked with total impunity.

"The frequent armed robbery attacks amount to a conspiracy to decimate the church by discouraging people from becoming priests, and this would be seen as a fatal strike at the heart of the Catholic religion," the clergyman said.

He urged the government to intensify efforts to protect the lives and property of the citizens.