By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
A parishioner of St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, Chief Joseph Obiajulu fondly known as Br. Joe has refuted the allegation by another parishioner, Ebelechukwu Ezeoke, saying that the allegation that she (Ezeoke) had advised him (Obiajulu) to stop tainting the image of Rev. Fr Emma Udechukwu was completely false. He was reacting to statement credited to Ebelechukwu during the send-off of Fr Udechukwu in the parish on Sunday, November 4, 2018, 9 years after he had served as the parish priest.
Chief Obiajulu, who spoke to Fides shortly before the commencement of Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) meeting at St Mary's High School, Field, Ifitedunu, December 4, 2018, said he never tainted the image of the priest. He wondered why Ebelechukwu Ezeoke, who was among the people that had a meeting with the bishop over an issue that involved the then parish priest, and never uttered a word at the meeting, except for the prayers she joined in, would say that she had advised him to stop tainting the image of a priest.
Obiajulu, who is the Publicity Secretary of ASATU, however, said that an individual whose number was not in his contact list, nine years ago, sent him strange text messages without stating who he/she was. Chief Obiajulu, who termed the text messages nonsense, said that even when he sent a reply to the sender to state who he/she was, didn't get any reply.
Br. Joe said as the then former President General (PG) of Ichida Town, he was conscious of his security, and he had informed the then Vice President General (VPG) of the town of the messages. That it was when he gave the VPG the number that he knew that Ebelechukwu Ezeoke was the sender, as confirmed by the former vice president general of the town.
Then he saved the number, and sent another message to her (Ezeoke) to meet him at the parish and confirm the content of the text messages in the open, if she was saying the truth. But, according to him, he did not get any reply from her.
When asked what the content of the messages were, Chief Obiajulu said that Ebelechukwu Ezeoke through the messages, noted that Rev Fr. Emmanuel Udechukwu complained that he (Obiajulu) was tainting his image.
Obiajulu, who is the former financial secretary of St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, refuted what was described as “uncalled for actions of him”, and termed that as arrant nonsense. He challenged those peddling the rumour and Ebelechukwu Ezeoke to come out in the parish and refute all that he said.
Chief Obiajulu, who served the parish as the financial secretary for seven years, said all the parish priests that served in the parish till date tried their very best during their tenures.
According to him, the former parish priest, Rev. Fr. Zeph Uzoh, renovated a section of the parish rectory which foundation was laid in 1978. He said that Fr. Uzoh did the roofing, added rods to the building and renovated some of the rooms. This was even as Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Udechukwu, who was Fr. Uzoh's immediate successor, renovated and enlarged a room in the rectory and planted some flowers.
He gave credit to Rev. Fr. John Mark Agulefo, who succeeded Rev. Fr. Udechukwu, whom he said did a major renovation in the parish rectory. According to Obiajulu, Rev. Fr. Agulefo during his time as the parish priest, completed the renovation of the parish rectory with new architectural design. The parish rectory was subsequently, blessed by the Catholic Bishop of the diocese.
When contacted, the parish priest, St Theresa's Parish, Ichida, Rev Fr Boniface Ezeoke, said his position was reflected in the address that was signed by him and the Secretary, Parish Pastoral Council, Mr. Chris Ekwochi, Obiajulu, and read by the secretary at the send-off in honour of Rev Fr Emmanuel Udechukwu on November 4, 2018.
The parish through the address observed that many of the parishioners did not fully understand all that transpired in the parish those nine years.
This was even as the parish through the same address, appealed to Rev Fr Udechukwu to in line with Christian virtue of forgiveness, forgive and forget all the anomalies that took place in the parish during his time.