Amano-Obohia - Traditional rulers from Mbaise in Imo have appealed to Catholic priests from the area to remain calm and maintain the peace.
The appeal followed protests by the priests against the appointment of Bishop Peter Okpaleke from Anambra as the Bishop of Ahiara Catholic Diocese.
The Chairman of the rulers (Ndi Eze Mbaise), Eze Chidubem Okoro, made the appeal in his palace in Amano-Obohia, Ahiazu-Mbaise Local Government Area on Friday.
He was speaking when the monarchs from Ahiazu-Mbaise, Abo-Mbaise and Ezinihite-Mbaise council areas officially announced the date for the 2013 New Yam Festival scheduled for Aug. 15.
Okoro said it had become necessary for the traditional institution to take a stand on the matter, because of the bad name it had brought to the people.
He said the traditional rulers had become deeply concerned because indigenes of the area reside in many parts of the world.
The chairman said the dissenting priests might have a genuine reason for their action, but appealed to them to pursue their course in a civilised manner.
"We are looking onto God for help, but we are decisive in finding a solution to this matter because it will affect people beyond the church.
"We appeal to those not happy with the decision of the Vatican to cool down in the interest of peace; it is our duty to speak out because we have listened to all sides,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that dissenting priests from the area last month caused the venue of the consecration to be moved from the Catholic Cathedral, Ahiara to the Seat of Wisdom Seminary, Owerri.
The priests opposed the appointment of Okpaleke, insisting that the bishop to succeed the late Most Rev. Victor Chikwe, also from Mbaise, must hail from the area.
NAN gathered that the area has more than 700 indigenous Catholic priests, and is believed to be second to Ireland in the production of priests.