Suspended Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Hycainth Alia, of the Catholic Diocese of Gboko in Benue State, Nigeria has stated that his decision for joining the gubernatorial is to effect change.

The Priest was earlier suspended by the Diocese for expressing interest in the state governorship election.

The priest has since submitted his gubernatorial expression of interest and nomination form to the APC.

In a post on his Facebook page, the priest said: “From the day I took the decision to answer the overwhelming calls of my people to contest the governorship of Benue with the aim to rescue our people from the shackles of maladministration, I was fully aware of the sacrifice I was going to make, reports BARRISTERNG.COM

“And I am convinced that it is worth the cause I am fighting to serve the souls of Benue people and the state. I remain resolute and please don’t be anxious either because I am well prepared and focused.”

 

The statement further reads;

“More importantly, I am more charged because I have seen the genuineness in the agitations for me to step in and help salvage the already sorry situation the state has found itself for some time.

As stated in the last paragraph of the suspension letter, I shall return to the public pulpit after I must have served out my mandate as the Governor of Benue state.”

The priest also commented on the position of William Avenya, bishop of the Catholic diocese of Gboko, who said the canon law of the Catholic church forbids clerics from being involved in partisan politics.

Speaking through Donald Kumun, his media aide, Alia said the canon law did not imagine salaries and gratuity of citizens would not be paid.

 

“They never imagined that there would be a governor who would refuse to listen to a Catholic bishop begging for the payment of workers’ salaries in the way and manner that Bishop Avenya (Catholic Bishop of Gboko) has done in Benue state,” he was quoted as saying.

 

“They never knew it would be possible for a governor to stay in power for almost eight years with literally nothing to show for it by way of infrastructural development.

 

“They never thought of a situation where a state would produce numerous raw materials with practically no industry to process them; while the government plans to sell the existing state-owned industries.

 

“They never imagined that poor farmers, who are not benefiting anything from the government, would be made to pay cut-throat taxes on their farm produce.

 

“None of the drafters of the code of canon law imagined that a state will deliberately increase school fees in government-owned tertiary institutions in a way that makes it impossible for the children of the poor to go to school.

 

“Certainly, they never knew there would be a state in Nigeria where a government would deliberately and consciously impoverish its citizens just to make them politically pliable.

 

“The canon law never envisaged a state that would turn her highly intelligent youths into political thugs instead of engaging them productively just to mention but a few.

 

Background

In an official statement from the Diocese dated May 20, 2022 and signed by the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese , Bishop William Avenya, stated that the affected priest had previously been warned in accordance with the church’s partisan politics rule, hence the decision for his suspension.

The Priest is one of 12 governorship candidates that obtained expressions of interest and nomination forms from the All Progressives Congress (APC) in order to contest in the party’s primary election.

Part of the official statement from the Diocese cited by AGNUS-DEI MEDIA on his suspension read; “I write to communicate to you the suspension of my priest, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Iornem Alia from public ministry after series of admonitions to him.

The mother church does not allow her clerics to get involved in partisan politics on their own Ex can. 285, 3 CIC. You’re aware that my son, your brother and your priest has purchased the party’s form to contest for the office of the governor of Benue State under the All Progressives Congress which is usually against our vocation.

Therefore, to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the church in the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, I have suspended him from exercise of sacred ministry. This canonical suspension takes effect from the moment it is communicated to him and last until he ceases from contumacy.”

His suspension has elicited varied emotions, with many Catholics expressing their support for the Diocese, while non-Catholics felt the decision was severe.

It’s worth emphasizing that the stated priest was simply barred from celebrating public Eucharistic masses; he is still a priest of the Catholic Church and will resume his public mass and ministry when his public civil service term finishes.

By Edith Mensah

Edith Mensah is a trained journalist who believes in delivering up to the mark contents and has utmost regard for ethical standards. Kindly get in touch via email- [email protected] +233202152290