How Death Trailed Late Fr. Odia from Akoko-Edo Parish of Catholic Church to Ikabigbo

How Death Trailed Late Fr. Odia from Akoko-Edo Parish of Catholic Church to Ikabigbo

More details have emerged on the circumstances surrounding the gruesome killing of 41-year-old Catholic reverend father, and parish priest of St. Michael Catholic Church, Ikabigbo in Uzairue, Etsako West local government area of Edo State on Sunday.

TELL gathered on good authority that Fr. Odia’s life had been under threat from suspected Fulani herdsmen in his former parish in Dagbala, Akoko-Edo local government area of the state. He was also said to have had conflict with some of his parishioners over his hard stance on land-grabbing and illegal mining activities going on in the area in which some of them were neck-deep.

According to informed sources, while serving in his former parish, Odia had cried out over alleged siege on Dagbala-Okpameri community by killer herdsmen who posed as gold miners.

Following the alarm raised, a committee was said to have been set up at the behest of the Bishop of the Auchi Diocese with a charge to investigate the cause of the crisis between the church, the community and the illegal miners in Dagbala community which was headed by Oba D.S Lawani , the Okogbe of Ojah, and Clan Head of Okuluso. The Imah of Somorika, and Aimanerimi Victor Arogunyo, served as vice chairman, and secretary respectively of the committee which sat for several weeks and made some useful recommendations to government.

With his strained relationship with some of his parishioners and the community, it was learnt that the Akoko Edo Deanery 1 was constrained to suggest to the Bishop of the Auchi Diocese that he be transferred from the area when it became obvious that the reverend father was in serious danger after he complained about frequent unusual movements around the parish, especially at night. He was consequently transferred to Ikabigbo in Uzairue, Etsako West local government area of the state, when he started to experience mysterious occurrences. For example, two of his dogs were said to have died in quick succession under curious circumstances. He was also said to have complained about being threatened by persons allegedly benefiting from the illegal gold-mining activities, notably illegal aliens involved in the business, and suspected Fulani marauders.

Recall that Odia was killed by his abductors after being kidnapped around 6.30 am in his rectory while coming out for Sunday mass. Two persons, a mass servant, and a member of the Edo Vigilante Network identified as Nurudeen Yusuf Umosor, a hunter, also lost their lives in their courageous effort to rescue the reverend father. The kidnappers reportedly opened fire on their pursuers, and also gunned down Odia in their frustration and anger over the turn of events as the police tactical team, Jattu division police operatives, led by the divisional police officer, DPO, as well as local vigilante team, mobilised against them.

Two of the kidnappers were however not lucky to make good their escape as they were caught when the community youths went into the bush in search of the corpse of Fr. Odia when they learnt that he had been killed. But for the intervention of the police, both of them would have suffered the same fate of being burnt alive as the security agents were able to rescue one of them who, like a canary, has started to sing.

In his confession, he was said to have fingered a domestic staff of the reverend father, one Kabiru, as the arrow head of the kidnap. According to available information, Kabiru, a Fulani, had been working with Odia as a gardener for over two years. The suspect said they took off from neighbouring Aviele, through Agbede.

Meanwhile, the acting governor of the state, Philip Shaibu, on Monday visited the Ikabigbo community to commiserate with the people and the Catholic Church, and to get first-hand information about the tragic incident which resulted in the killing of Fr. Odia. Shaibu also commiserated with the Head of Ikabigbo community, Aleghe Braimah, Nurudeen’s family, and the Ogieneni of Uzairue, Kadiri Omogbai.

Shaibu, in company with top government officials, as well as heads of security agencies in the state, assured the troubled community that “the assailants will be brought to book and made to pay for their crimes.”

The acting governor said: “We are pained by the loss of both the reverend father and the member of the vigilante group, who was killed; but I am particularly happy with our youths and the vigilante group and the hunters. We also commend the police and the military for their prompt action. We’re very saddened that we lost our loved ones.

“I insisted that we must come to see what has happened for ourselves. We have gotten some information already. Last night, I insisted that the military should remain in the bush to comb the forest. As we speak, they’re still there because we want to make sure that none of the culprits escapes.

“We will also look at what has happened here critically because Edo State has been relatively peaceful. We will not allow these miscreants to come into our state and disrupt the peace that we’re already enjoying. Edo will be too hot for them. We will assess what has happened to know how to correct them”.

Abutu Yaro, the state Commissioner of Police, assured the community and relatives of the casualties that the security outfits would not rest until the criminals are brought to book. Yaro implored them to partner with the Police and charged anyone taking actions to work within the ambits of the law to ensure that they do not run afoul of the law.

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