Awka - The Catholic Diocese of Awka has cleared the governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra, Sen. Chris Ngige, of allegedly assaulting a priest by slapping him.
The Chancellor of the Diocese, Rev. Fr. Chudi Akaenyi, at a news conference in Awka on Tuesday, said that at no time did Ngige slap any priest of the church.
There have been speculations that Ngige recently slapped a Catholic priest at a funeral ceremony at his hometown, Nanka, in Orumba North Local Government Area.
Akaenyi, flanked by the priest alleged to have been slapped, Rev. Fr. Evaristus Ezekwonna, the Chaplain General of Men of Order (MOD) of the diocese, said that he did not see Ngige slap anyone.
"When I was informed of disorderliness at the entrance gate for the dignitaries in the bishop's house during the burial, I invited the senator to the scene to identify persons who said they were in his entourage,’’ Ezekwonna said.
He said that three policemen who later apologised for unruly behaviour had tried to force their way into the bishop’s court after Ngige had entered with some people who came with him.
"There was no incident or action of that nature, either by him or anybody. I have told you our own connection. Policemen tried to force the gate open. Ngige came to me and said he did not know them and we shook hands and he left.
"Hearing that anybody slapped a reverend father is matter of serious concern and absolutely unacceptable.
"I have no idea about that, I do not know where they got that story from because no priest would have made any press statement to the media without clearance,’’ Akaenyi said.
Earlier, Ngige had told newsmen in his campaign office in Awka that as a Catholic, who attended Catholic schools and a knight for about 10 years, he could not slap or use offensive language on a priest.
"Anybody who is saying I was found to have assaulted a priest was saying so because he or she is 'out of his or her senses'. I am a very strong Catholic and from a Catholic family.
He said that political parties could be behind the rumour and that his party was investigating the matter.
"It is a joke taken too far,’’ he said.
Ngige, however, said that his legal team was looking into the issue in order to take appropriate action.