The Imo State government last week fulfilled its promise of allocating lands to churches it demolished their worship centres in the middle of this year.
On Wednesday, August 29 and Thursday, August 30, it released documents indicating that it has allocated lands to 17 of the 21 churches it demolished their worship centres in May and June, this year. The lands, going by the allocation papers are situated at Area ‘T’ in New Owerri and Naze in Owerri North Local Government Area of the state. This is commendable.
One could recall May 31 when the bull-dozers of the task force of the development-controlling agency, Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) descended on churches in the green belt located on Chief Sam Mbakwe Avenue in Owerri and reduced their buildings to rubble. Other houses and schools located in the area were not spared either.
As the allocation papers were handed over to them, the senior pastors of the churches heaved a sigh of relief. They were happy. And last Sunday when the news of the allocation was announced in their churches, the congregation erupted in an orgy of celebration.
Rev. Dr. Austine Uchegbu, spokesperson of the demolished churches captured the mood of the churches while responding after the state Commissioner for Lands, Mr. Uche Nwosu had handed over the papers to them. He was effusive in his gratitude to the government for its kind gesture. He said the land allocation would be testified in their churches.
Mr. Nwosu had commended the churches for comporting themselves well after the demolition of their worship centres. He noted that the churches neither called out their members to riot nor staged a peaceful rally to express their indignation at the demolition. This, he said, showed the love which the churches have for the administration. The commissioner went ahead to state that the administration cannot afford to foist hardship on the churches having received invaluable support from them during the electioneering period. He went ahead to recall how some pastors defied a heavy downpour during the campaigns to pray and usher Owelle Rochas Okorocha into Obowo Local Government Area. Okorocha and his campaign team were on their way to Obowo when all of a sudden, it began to rain heavily to the point that he pressured his team to turn back and return to Owerri. But at that split second, a call was put across to him by a pastor who told him that they were under the rain praying for him and awaiting his arrival to Obowo. That boosted his courage and he still made it to Obowo where the pastors prayed and passed a decree that all Obowoians must vote for him at the poll. That he eventually won the gubernatorial poll showed that the pastors’ decree was established.
Nwosu also said government was not happy over the demolition but that the land allocation is indicative of its readiness to ensure that the churches do not suffer. …