A Nigerian bishop whom Pope Francis had fiercely defended has resigned after a five-year, sometimes violent, standoff with rebel priests and faithful who rejected him as an ethnic outsider, the Vatican said on Monday.
The case of the Vatican versus the people of the diocese of Ahiara in southwestern Nigeria had become a rare battle of wills that tested the power of papal authority and could set a precedent for future appointments.
A Vatican statement said the pope had accepted the resignation of Peter Ebere Okpaleke as bishop of the diocese of Ahiara. It said the position had been declared vacant and that a papal administrator would run it for the time being.
Many priests and faithful had refused to swear allegiance to Okpaleke because he is not from Mbaise, a heavily Catholic area in southwestern Nigeria made up of an amalgam of indigenous clans connected by intermarriage.
Bishop Okpaleke comes from the neighbouring Anambra state.
Okpaleke was appointed bishop by then-pope Benedict in 2012, but the protests prevented him from ever taking over the diocese. His installation ceremony took place in another area of Nigeria because the doors of the Ahiara cathedral were locked so the bishop could not enter.
Pope Francis demands obedience
The situation came to a head last June when Francis demanded that all priests in the diocese write him a letter within 30 days pledging their obedience to and accepting Okpaleke as their bishop because he was appointed by a pope.
Those who did not write such a letter would face suspension from the priesthood, the pope told them at the time. Francis also demanded that the rebellious priests write a letter of apology to Okpaleke.
Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news agency, said some 200 priests had written to the pope promising their obedience. But many had also told the pontiff that they had “psychological difficulty in collaborating with the bishop after years of conflict”.
On Monday, Fides published excerpts from Okpaleke’s resignation letter, saying he had not been able to take possession of diocese or even live within its territory because of continuing “violent reaction and resistance”.
The agency, which is controlled by the Vatican, said the rebellious priests should “reflect on the grave damage inflicted on the Church” through their “unreasonable actions opposing a bishop legitimately appointed by the Supreme Pontiff”.
In his resignation letter, Okpaleke said remaining bishop in would not be beneficial to the Church.
National Dialogue: What is inside the 400 page proposal Tumi gave Dion?
The Archbishop Emeritus of Douala His Eminence Cardinal Tumi has submitted a 400-page document to the Prime Minister, Head of government Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute.
Cardinal Tumi who was received at the Star Building in line with the consultations ahead of the Major National Dialogue which holds at the end of the month led a college of religious leaders to submit their views.
The 400-page document is a collection of views collected from citizens of the Anglophone regions in the past months from the North West and South West regions by organizers of the Anglophone General Conference.
Cardinal Tumi who is the convenor of the Anglophone General Conference has never been granted authorization by the government to hold the gathering but recently welcomed the decision by the Head of State to call for the Major National Dialogue.
But speaking on the program inside on equinoxe television, the revered Cardinal said 69% of Anglophones favor “outright independence”
Tumi who is a known federalist said their survey which was carried ahead of a similar dialogue of their own said even though secessionists was not on the question paper, many Anglophone opted for outright secession in their survey
The shocking statistics from the ma of God among other painful proposals contained in a 400 pages document will constitute some of the proposals government will have to deal it ahead of the talks
Kumba government delegate copies bad example
Kumba government delegate, Nkelle Ngoh Victor wakes up from sleep, seals shops at the Kumba Main market. He says the decision is to punish the traders for respecting a lock down imposed by separatist fighters.
The traders are to pay 25000f cfa each to gain access to their shops. The action of the heavily armed government delegate who looks tired comes amidst a one week lockdown observed across the entire Anglophone regions which has hampered back to school efforts.
Separatists had called for one week lockdown to protest the sentencing of their leaders Sissikou and Co and to frustrate back to school efforts by government and pro school activists
The move by the Government delegate of the Kumba Ciry council is not new within the context of the Anglophone crisis
The government Delegate of Bamenda City Council and the combative mayor of Buea have all employed similar tactics in the past but failed to change course on the field
Mayor Ekema historically sealed more than 800 shops in his city, seized hundreds of thousands and forced businesses to sign undertaking promising to defy ghost towns and lockdowns
His efforts have failed to resonate across his municipality, with many in the town still respecting the separatists imposed ghost towns much to the shagrin of the politicians
Watch Video: Fru Ndi rejects key Amba demand during captivity
In a leaked video which is making rounds on social media this evening 27th April 2019, the SDF leader Ni John Fru Ndi has rejected the key demand put forth by the armed civilian fighters who kidnapped him briefly earlier during the day
Contrary to reports from party sources and Amba activists that the fighters only had a brief and friendly chat with the veteran politician, the armed civilians could be clearly heard in one of the videos telling the politician that he has been kidnapped because he was walking with politicians
The fighters then went ahead to demand that the party boss recall all his MPS and senators from Yaoundé, a request the chairman who looked comfortable immediately rejected while in captivity .
“I cannot call them back,” he said before one of the fighters couldn’t be heard asking “why”
After drinking from a locally made cup, the chairman says he needs a platform to talk to Biya reason why he can’t call the party lawmakers home.
He cited Hon. Wirba, the runaway SDF MP for Jakiri who left the country after defiling parliamentary rules to advance the course of the Anglophones in the lower house.
NI John Fru Ndi reminded the fighters that Wirba whom they so endear started talking at the parliament hence, he cannot recall the lawmakers.
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