The arrest and release of a Catholic Priest of Ogoja Diocese, Fr. Titus Armon by men of the Nigerian Army (29th Oct 2020) at the behest of the Department of State Security in Cross River State is in the public domain with neatly parcelled versions in favour of their pay Masters. We are not interested on whoever wants to make political gain and capital from this event but rather appalled at the manner and style of the Department of State Security. Are they licensed to kill?
It is pertinent to underline the fact that a Catholic priest is not immuned from obeying the laws of the land, however there is a more honourable path for security agencies to tow in the planning, interpretation and eventual execution of their script. I find them culpable and negligent in the Gestapo style the gentleman was arrested without prior invitation. It is despicable, preposterous, dehumanising and traumatic at all layers.The State Department of State Security and by extension the State Governor, His Excellency Sir. Ben Ayade ( who is a Knight of the Catholic Church) owes his home diocese a detailed and unreserved apology, if religion means anything to him.
Fr. Titus Armon was in his room when two gun trottling Army men entered and demanded that he descends downstairs to speak with their boss who was in the car, his attempt to put on his cassock was rebuffed and he was dragged down like a common thief and emptied forcefully into the waiting Hilux van. The journey from Abuochiche in Bekwarra to Calabar which lasted over five hours in the midst of unknown men with intermittent interrogation was hellish. He spent the night at the detention facility in Akim Army Barrack before his eventual relocation to SSS detention facility. His crime: he allegedly originated an ENDSARS protest video traced to his phone.
Nelson Mandela posted years ago, ” to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others”. The onus is on the government to accord us freedom of expression and to respect the dignity of its citizens and walk the path of due diligence especially post ENDSARS era. Is the Cross River State government imbibing any lesson?
Besides, Fr. Titus Armon works in a reputable, ubiquitous and time tested religious organisation where Gov. Ayade prides himself as a worthy Knight, was it not proper to inform the bishop of the diocese? Are the words of Robert Mitchin true of our Governor? ” There are three times in a man’s life when it’s useless to hold him for anything; when he is madly in love, drunk or having an exalted political office. Could all these three be working in favour of the Governor? If a Catholic Priest can be so recklessly treated, what’s the assurance for others?
Gov. Ben Ayade should be reminded that no one has ever won the Catholic church in a battle. Can Gov Ayade change the pages of history where emperors and kings could not succeed. This is a tall dream.
The handlers of the Governor must eschew the art and mastery of psychophancy which flows in their veins and face reality, you dont play politics with peoples’lives. His multi-layered media aides whose importance originate from being in the periphery of power and having food on their tables, ought to know this drama is a bad omen. Our beloved Governor should be reminded that of the timeless words of Richard Harns “THE MOST DINSTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF SUCCEESFUL POLITICIANS IS SELECTIVE COWARDICE”. Will they have the gumption to do the needful, the answer lies in the womb of time.
Fr. Emma Eroh is the Director of Communication,
Catholic Diocese of Ogoja.