Not less than forty percent (40%) of Idoma Catholic Community worshippers in Lafia Catholic Diocese are said to be leaving in droves due to the attitude of Bishop Mathew Ishaya Audu in not showing concern over their welfare.
In a recent open letter to the Bishop of Lafia Diocese by the President of the Idoma Catholic Community under Keffi Branch, Mr Stephen Ekoja, accused the Bishop of taking sides with the Presiding Priest of Saint Monica Catholic Church, Koroduma, One man Village, in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, Father Patrick Agbo.
He was accused of protecting the erstwhile President of the Community, Mr Sunday Agada who allegedly defrauded the community to the tune of N2.67 million.
Mr Ekoja, in his open letter to the Bishop noted that after taking over from the former president of the community, it was discovered that only N81,000 (Eighty-one thousand Naira) was left in the coffers of the community as against the over N2.67 million stated in his handing over notes which was promptly brought to the notice of the erstwhile president.
Ekoja stated that in his meeting with Agada, he was said to have agreed to the alleged fraud and promised to make amends by paying N100, 000 (One hundred thousand Naira monthly) until final liquidation of the said amount and even pleaded for forgiveness.
But in a twist, according to the current president, Reverend Father Patrick Agbo who is the Chaplain of the Idoma Catholic Community called for a meeting purportedly to settle the matter, only for him to say that the said amount would not be settled by the culprit and even nullified the suspension slammed on the former President.
In utter disregard to the new executive of the Idoma community and actions taken so far to recover the alleged stolen funds, Father Agbo went further to dissolve the duly elected Exco, and established a parallel branch apart from setting up a caretaker committee against the community’s constitutional provisions.
The development angered the Idoma community and they promptly reported the matter to the Bishop for amicable resolution of the matter.
He further stated that ”My Lord, because of the controversy arising from Fr. Agbo’s action, we wrote you a letter to redress the situation and which you graciously invited all of us to Lafia. And at Lafia, after you have examined the whole situation, you said ‘’You know what Fr. Agbo did to us is wrong, but it stands’’.
“It then became crystal clear that you took sides with Fr. Agbo and his co-travelers because we are lay faithfuls and not priest.
Mr Ekoja also averred that instead of the Bishop to wade into the matter with fatherly approach, he ended up taking sides with alleged corrupt attitude of his priest and the former president and even consolidated his stand by writing a circular directing all Idoma faithfuls to register afresh with the illegal and unknown caretaker committee up to the diocesan level leading to over 40% depletion in Idoma catholic worshippers.
Ekoja in his open letter also noted that the Bishop tacitly directed his priest (not father Agbo) not to celebrate Mass for the community when they held their patron feast day outside St Sylvester catholic Church New Nyanya in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, a development that put over 1700 Idoma catholic members in the cold.
Said Ekoja: “In spite of this burning issue, you chose to instruct your priest not to celebrate Mass for us on our feast day recently leaving our over 1,700 catholic worshippers to the cold. We still celebrated the feast day without you our Bishop”.
Meanwhile, efforts to get the Bishop for his own side of the story proved abortive as at press time as his line could not be reached.