Three masquerades have been arrested by the Anambra Police Command for disrupting a church programme at Uke, Idemili North Local Government on Friday.
Mrs Nkeiruka Nwode, the Police Public Relations officer in the state, while confirming the arrest told newsmen the suspects attacked worshipers at the Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry in Uke.
She said “Three masqueraders have been arrested in connection with the church attack. We have commenced an investigation into the cause of the incident and would notify you when concluded”.
The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) gathered that masqueraders in the town were celebrating a festival called “Uzo Iyi”.
About 10 masquerades reportedly invaded the church, attacked worshippers and made efforts to abduct the spiritual director of the centre, Rev Fr Emmanuel Obinna.
An eyewitness said the leadership of the church called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the police to join their internal security team to protect worshipers
“On arrival, the operatives arrested three masqueraders, who were involved in the attack, but their colleagues attempted to stop them from taking the arrested masqueraders away, prompting SARS operatives to shoot sporadically into the air before taking them away,” the source said
Mr Francis Okoye, the Personal Assistant to the Spiritual Director, while recounting the incidence said the masqueraders injure a seminarian and 28 other people.
“The normal masquerade activities in Uke, to the best of my knowledge, ends by 6 p.m but as at 8 p.m on Friday, the masqueraders were still parading at the entrance route of Uke Adoration ground, extorting money from our members and robbing others in the guise of masquerade festival.
“As at 8.30 p.m, we started receiving information that some masqueraders were attacking our members, flogging them and inflicting injuries.
“They flogged some of them, stabbed some with their weapons including machetes, while others were robbed of their mobile phones and other valuables.
“We quickly contacted the SARS office to assist our Adoration security team, who could not handle the situation at that point in time.
“When SARS arrived an hour later, they arrested two masqueraders but on their way back, the youths blocked the road and insisted that the masqueraders must be released; that was when SARS officials fired shots in the air to disperse them.
“When SARS left, they re-grouped and this time came in their numbers to the Adoration premises, beating everybody including the elderly, the sick and pregnant women.
“Our Adoration youths, in defence, pursued them and arrested one other masquerader, who stayed in the Adoration ground with us until this morning when we handed him over to the officials of the Nigerian Army, who came to our rescue.” (NAN)