Catholic priest , Gov. Ortom in church drama —Gov debunks claims

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Catholic priest , Gov. Ortom in church drama —Gov debunks claims
By Admin
Makurdi,
Middlebelt, Nigeria
The Priest of St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, Wannune, in Tarka Local
Government Area of Benue state, David Mzer, on Wednesday reportedly
embarrassed the state governor, Samuel Ortom, over unpaid workers’
salaries. However Governor’s spokesman, Terver Akase, has debunked claims of rifts between himself and the Gboko Catholic Diocese,
The incident took place during the thanksgiving mass of ex-governor George
Akume, who celebrated his 64th birthday.
Sun Newspaper reports that an eyewitness, who spoke under anonymity,
said Fr. Mzer, a young priest, while delivering his sermon at the mass had
urged Akume to give quality advice to Governor Ortom on statecraft,
including the issues of salaries.
The witness added that: “After Holy Communion and before the end of mass,
the Parish Priest requested Senator Akume to make his remarks. The
Senator touched on a few issues including some explanations on the salary
matter and requested that Governor Ortom be allowed to also make brief
remarks.
“When the governor got hold of the microphone and started with greetings,
the Parish Priest came from behind and announced that he (Ortom) was not
allowed to speak.
“Ortom, who was as surprised as the congregation asked the Priest what he
said and he repeated that the governor was not allowed to speak in the
church. The governor handed the microphone to the Priest and went back to
his seat.”
The witness disclosed that the development sparked an immediate uproar
from the congregation most of who obviously disapproved of the remarks.
He further said that based on the reaction of the congregants, the priest
quickly brought the mass to an end and as he was leaving, he passed by the
dignitaries and stated that he only complied with the directive of the Bishop
of the Diocese not to allow the governor to talk.
Meanwhile, the governor, in a chat with newsmen after the mass, said he
bore no grudge with the order of the Bishop and did not want to join issues
with the clergy.
On his part, Akume condemned the action pointing out that the governor
deserved respect as Chief Executive of the state who had the right to speak
with his people even in church as has been the custom with all the governors
of the state.
However, in a statement signed by Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Terver
Akase, and made available to journalists on Thursday, the governor
debunked claims of rifts between himself and the Gboko Catholic Diocese,
stressing that he is God-fearing and would not indulge in rancour with the
Church.
He also said he understood and respects the decision of Gboko Catholic
Diocese not to allow politicians to speak during masses and therefore would
not have felt slighted when the Priest in Charge of the Wannune Parish did
not permit him to speak during the mass in accordance with the decision of
the Diocese.
“We urge those amplifying the incident and making inflammatory statements
for political reasons to sheathe their swords Governor Ortom is a God-
fearing leader who submits himself to Christian authorities and has
enormous regard for the Catholic Church in particular. He won’t allow the
cordial relationship he has built with the church over the years to be
jeopardized,” the statement read in part.

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