CHUKWUJEKWU ILOZUE/ PERCY ONYEJEKWE
AWKA/NNEWI – Nnewi residents were thrown into panic when the St Peter Clavers Catholic Church, in Nnewi-Ichi , Nnewi, Anambra State burst into flames on Saturday morning.
Eyewitness said a big noise like that of an explosion was heard when the incident occurred 1.37 am, followed by thick smoke.
According to sources, the Parish Priest of St Peter Clavers Catholic Church, Rev Father Edmund Neagbala died in the explosion which destroyed the priests’ quarter, a duplex opposite the church hall.
The explosion suspected to have come from alleged parcel bomb blew off the roof of the section in which the priest slept, burnt him beyond recognition, shattered the louvers, among other things, leaving other part of the building untouched.
Sunday Independent learnt that Rev Father Nwagbala returned to the church premises at 1 am with some parcels which the attendants took upstairs for him.
It was said that the explosion happened at 1.37 am on Saturday morning, killing the priest and injuring another priest identified as Rev Father John, now recuperating in the hospital.
When Sunday Independent got to the scene of the incident, it was observed that the roof of the section of the one-story building in which the priest slept was blown open, even as there were shattered glass, chairs and a blown off window from where Rev. John escaped.
Haruna Mohammed , the Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Police Command, confirmed the incident, saying investigation was ongoing, adding that the priests’ body had been deposited at the hospital for autopsy.
Meanwhile, a cross section of Nnewi residents believed that the priest’s death was an act of sabotage meant to cover up alleged abnormalities going on within the Catholic Diocese.
Anambra Chief Fire Officer, Mr. Martin Agbili, also confirmed the incident, saying the fire, which began in the room where Fr. Nwagbara slept, burnt him beyond recognition.
He said the cause of the fire incident was not known at press time, even as the body of Fr. Nwagbara had been removed and deposited in a morgue.