No fewer than three masquerades and one person were arrested by both the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Anambra State Police Command, Neni Police Division, and soldiers attached to 302 Military Regiment, Onitsha, during the celebration of the annual Uzo-Iyi festival by Uke community in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State which held on Friday.
It was gathered that over 20 vehicles belonging to worshippers at the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry were damaged beyond recognition by irate youths during the festival.
The Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry is headed by Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obimma (Ebube Muonso).
According to inside sources, the Uke community had warned the church to always respect the festival day by postponing its prayer sessions held on Fridays whenever it coincided with the celebration of the annual Uzo-Iyi festival, but the church was said to have ignored the warning.
Consequently, as this year’s Uzo-Iyi festival coincided with the Friday prayer session of the Adoration Ministry, the youths of the community, in anger, insulted, harassed, intimidated, and assaulted members of the church, and this resulted in a free-for-all.
Scores were injured in the fracas and over 20 vehicles were damaged.
Acting on a tip-off, the SARS stormed the scene and arrested three masquerades while the soldiers who were also alerted on the violence arrived the scene and arrested one person.
As at the time of filing this report, the youths of the community were seen in groups, still spoiling for war and threatening to sack the Adoration Ministry over the arrest of three of their masquerades by the police while one person is still unconscious following the free-for-all.
They described the arrest of the masquerade as an abominable act.
To worsen the situation, there was speculation making the rounds that the person arrested by the soldiers who was allegedly beaten to pulp had died.
The youths, on hearing the news, had threatened fire and brimstone when a report came to them that it was mere rumour.
Confirming the clash, the Ogidi Divisional Police Officer, Mark Ijarafu, declined further comment and referred this reporter to the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nkiru Nwude, for details.