By Mokwugwo Solomon & Ezeike Obele
Early morning explosion has rocked the parish house of St Peter Cleaver’s Catholic Church, Nnewi, Anambra state, leaving the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Edmond Nwagbala, dead; while a resident priest, identified as Fr. John Okosa, was critically injured.
Orient Daily gathered that the explosion occurred in the early hours of Saturday, November 16, inside Fr. Nwagbala’s room.
Source from the parish told our reporters that the explosion sparked fire inside the priest’s room, and burned him beyond recognition; while another priest, Fr. Okosa, who managed to jump out from a window, sustained life threatening injuries, and was rushed to an undisclosed hospital.
The source, who did not want his name in print, also said there was neither a gas cylinder nor fuel container in the cleric’s room, which could ignite fire.
Our reporters were not allowed to gain access into the parish house; even as parishioners were all over the place, wailing and mourning.
Contacted, the Director of Communication in the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Rev. Fr. Martin Nweze, confirmed the development, but told our reporters that he would not say much as he was not in Anambra presently.
Efforts to get the reaction of the diocesan bishop, Rt. Rev. Hilary-Paul Odili Okeke, proved abortive, as the prelate would not pick calls put across to him.
Meanwhile, police authorities in Anambra state have also confirmed the development.
A release by the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, SP Haruna Mohammed, said the inferno, which cause is yet to be ascertained, affected part of the Church’s residential building.
According to the release, “The parish priest, Rv. Fr. Edmond Nwagbala ‘m’ aged about 60 years, was burnt beyond recognition inside his room at same premises.
“Police patrol team attached to Otolo Division led by the DPO, visited the scene and fire service department was equally alerted. They responded promptly and put off the fire.”
It added that the body of the priests has been deposited at the mortuary for postmortem examination; adding that the commissioner of police in the state, CP John Bassey Abang, has ordered for a discreet investigation to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.