The Provincial Bishops visited one of the sites, St Mary’s Parish, Nimbo, where the inhuman acts were meted out on innocent souls at the early hours of that painful date. The leader of the college of bishops was His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Maduka Okeke, the Archbishop and Metropolitan of Onitsha.
Other Bishops present were: Most Rev. Dr. Callistus Onaga of Enugu Diocese; Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Odili Okeke of Nnewi Diocese; Most Rev. Dr. John Ifeanyi Okoye of Awgu Diocese; Most Rev. Dr. Paulinus C. Ezeokafor of Awka; Most Rev. Dr. Dennis Isizu Auxiliary Bishop of Onitsha; Most Rev. Dr. Jonas Benson Okoye Auxiliary Bishop of Awka; and the host Bishop Most Rev. Dr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah of Nsukka Diocese.
Other Bishops who were in solidarity with the visit though they were not present were Most Rev. Dr. Michael Okoro of Abakiliki; Most Rev. Dr. Francis Okobo Emeritus Bishop of Nsukka and Most Rev. Dr. Anthony Okonkwo Gbuji the Emeritus Bishop of Enugu.
Present during the visit were Monsignor Evaristus Nwamadi of Enugu Diocese who was on his private visit when the bishops arrived; a handful of priests of Nsukka diocese including Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Amuluche Nnamani, Rev. Fr. Martins Ozioko, Rev. Fr. Dr. Brendan Nwodo, other Catholic priests and two Anglican priests.
The convoy of Bishops arrived Nimbo shortly before 4pm on 10th May 2016 after they rose from their meeting in Enugu.
Before they got to Nimbo, a crowd of the Nimbo people who were already coming home after they had deserted their homes at the wake of the heinous crimes was at hand to welcome the bishops and their entourage. As soon as the bishops arrived the arena was electrified with joy.
The host Bishop Godfrey Onah quickly welcomed the Bishops and introduced the august visitors to the Nimbo people. He highlighted the fervent desires of the bishops to visit Nimbo people in spite of the stress of their earlier meeting in Enugu.
“I told them that the road is very far, but they insisted they must visit. I told them that the roads are very bad, they maintained they must visit because the stories they hear of what happened in our place were heartbreaking and difficult to bear.
They insisted they would visit to console us, and to tell us that they are joined to us in prayers”.
Leading the opening prayer, at the request of the Metropolitan of Onitsha Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Okeke, the Bishop of Nnewi Diocese Most Rev. Dr. Hilary Okeke thanked God for saving some lives of the Nimbo people.
He prayed for the happy repose of the deceased, and prayed God to avert such untold suffering on the people. He prayed that their visit to the community would further express God’s love to His people. Bishop Okeke prayed for security of lives and properties of all Nigerians and across the country. He prayed for peace and progress in Nigeria.
In his speech, the Metropolitan of Onitsha, His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Valerian Maduka Okeke explained that their visit was in solidarity with the Nimbo people and the Catholic Diocese of Nsukka. Using Igbo proverbs he expressed the heartfelt desire of the Bishops to console the Nimbo people. “We heard what happened. It was scourging. It was sorrowful.
It was so painful because if there was war, people would have known and prepared themselves.
But to be sleeping or resting and all of a sudden one is besieged and invaded, it is very painful. However, the most painful side of the story is that we are told that those who committed this crime had no provocation from none of their victims. It is very bad.
“We appeal to governments and security agents to take up their responsibilities very seriously. If they are called upon, they should respond appropriately to prevent future occurrences.
I want to tell you that we have been praying for you ever since we heard your sad stories. Be consoled. May God wipe your tears”, the Archbishop consoled them.
In modesty, the Metropolitan of Onitsha announced their handsome donations of hundred bags of rice and money to the people.
It was the host Bishop Godfrey Igwebuike Onah who explained further to the Nimbo people the magnanimous donation of the Onitsha Provincial Catholic Bishops.
He explained that the Bishops were donating hundred bags of rice worth one million, five hundred naira (N1.5m) with an accompanying eight million, five hundred naira (N8.5m).
The people were thrilled with joy. When our reporters spoke to some of the people, they said that the gesture of the Bishops has shown they cared for the wellbeing of their flock.
Others hipped praises on the Bishops. One man said he would live and die a Catholic. The Dean of Adani Deanery, Very Rev. Fr. Frederick Omegoha, was there too to receive the Bishops.
Grabbing the microphone, he broke into songs. The parish priest, Rev. Fr. Joseph Okeke Obetta narrated to the bishops how the ordeal took place.
He too broke into songs as he spoke to the admiration of some bishops, while some others fought back tears.
It would be recalled that the suspected Fulani Herdsmen attempted severally to raze down his rectory, but at the end, they could not.
They only left after firing series of gun shots into the building to kill whoever was hiding inside.