Assault on Catholic Priest: Why I lured deaf suspect to police — Abakaliki Rice Mill Chairman
The Chairman, Abakaliki Rice Mill Company, Chief Joseph Ununu, has revealed his reason for luring the deaf suspect who allegedly assaulted a catholic priest at the mill to the police.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deaf suspect simply identified as Pius, allegedly assaulted the priest, Rev. Fr. Mathew Orie, at the mill for refusing to pay a toll of N500 after purchasing rice.
Orie fell unconscious after the assault but was revived at the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki with the act drawing condemnation from the government and citizens.
Ununu told NAN on Saturday that he personally lured the suspect to the police to show the mill’s condemnation and remorse over the unGodly act.
“I attended a programme at Okposi, Ohaozara Local Government Area (LGA) of the state when I heard about the incident and inmediately left the venue for Abakaliki to mitigate the situation.
“I went straight to the hospital where I met the priest in a stable condition and to the police headquarters where I condemned the act and promised to handover the suspect,” he said.
The rice mill chairman said that in the company of others, he searched for the suspect who had escaped from the scene and could not be found in his home.
“I later saw him at a traditional marriage ceremony within his area, interrogated him but he denied assaulting the priest.
“He claimed to have only hit the priest’s car but I insisted we visit the mill, using the ploy to lure and hand him over to the police,” he said.
He noted that the suspect had been a stable character who had never behaved in such manner in the past in spite of being a deaf.
“The management and the entire millers are still in shock over such behaviour because he is not known for the erratic behaviours associated with deaf persons.
“I employed him at the mill to fend for himself because of his disabled condition and not to create nuisance in the society.
“Considering his muscular endowments, the priest would not have survived if he actually hit him but he will lose his engagement at the mill when he is through with the police,” he said.
Ununu concluded that the mill’s management has contacted the catholic community in the state over incident and pleaded for its forgiveness.
“I have contacted the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Religion and Welfare Matters, Rev. Fr Abraham Nwali, over the issue and he has directed me on the authorities to liaise with,” he said.
ASP Loveth Odah, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), had earlier confirmed to NAN that the suspect was in detention and would face prosecution.
“We assure the public that the police would thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure due prosecution of the suspect.
Chief Moses Nome, Ebonyi Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, while reacting to insinuations that the suspect was under the government’s employ, noted that it does not have a taskforce operating at the rice mill.
“Anybody who operates at the mill in the government’s name is a thief and we are not connected with the incident or the running of the mill,” he said.
“We have a pact with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and as a responsible government, do not inflict harm on any category of person.
“We believe in the biblical injunction which says, `touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm,” he said. (NAN)