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Gunfire at Ediofe cathedral, Christians attack bishop’s home

Police was today forced to fire bullets in air and teargas at an angry mob that attempted to raid the home of Rt Rev Sabino Ocan Odoki, the Bishop of Arua diocese near Ediofe cathedral.

The mob accuses Bishop Odoki of ‘neglecting’ the late Bishop Fredrick Drandua, who succumbed to high blood pressure and diabetes on September 1. The chaos is said to have started yesterday evening when police moved in to arrest Christians who were ‘guarding’ the grave of the late Bishop Fredrick Drandua and calling for the transfer of Bishop Odoki.
James Okuni, a parishioner of Ediofe parish, says police arrested over 16 suspects, prompting Christians to ring the church bells – attracting even more angry people.

As a result, the residents moved in and smashed the windowpanes of the parish block, burnt documents and destroyed the temporary prayer structure as the cathedral is still under renovation.
They tried to raid the bishop’s house, prompting military and police guards to open fire leading to running battles.  Currently, more officers from the police and army have deployed at the cathedral to contain the situation.

Some of the destroyed properties at the parish. Photo: @PMLiveRadio 

In the morning, a group of Christians armed with placards calling for the removal of Bishop of Odoki attempted to march to Arua central police station to demand the unconditional release of their colleagues in police custody but were blocked by the army and police.

Monsignor Casto Adetmi, the Ediofe parish priest has called for dialogue with the warring parties to address their concerns.

“Of course we were all in the same compound with the bishop. We shall also see how we can relate this to the general security of the place of Ediofe. Certainly, we shall do something. As I said, we are still yet to meet and see what we can do. Right now there is a lot of insecurity, it is also difficult for people to come in. So we wait for this situation quell first. Of course we are open to dialogue, that is the mature way of solving problems, to listen to all sides of the problem and try to solve. But we are not encouraging mob action because with mob, it is very difficult to dialogue”, Adetmi said.

Haji Ibrahim Saiga, the West Nile regional police commander and Arua district police commander, Jonathan Musinguzu declined to comment on the attack, saying are still busy coordinating the operations to protect church property from further destruction.
Today’s chaos, comes a few days after Saiga penned a letter to the inspector general of police, Kale Kayihura saying there is need for the Vatican and Catholic church in Uganda to move Bishop Odoki from the diocese given the rising hostility towards him. 

He also asked the authorities to neutralize Martin Andua, the leader of the group opposed to the Bishop if the tension in the diocese is to be addressed. According to police reports, Kayihura flew to Arua today morning in a bid to quell the tensions.

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