Ejike Mbaka, a Catholic priest in Enugu state, says a team of BBC reporters were attacked after they were suspected to be assassins.
The journalists – Chioma Obianinwa and Nnamdi Agbanelo – were reportedly attacked by Mbaka and some men at his residence over a “negative” reportage about the priest.
They had gone to the adoration ground with one Cajethan Obiekezie, a Catholic priest, to interview Mbaka on Wednesday when the altercation occurred.
But Maximus Ugwuoke, spokesman of Mbaka’s ministry, said the “estranged” Obiekezie “came with some persons with an unknown identity who were secretly recording the day’s ministry programme”.
The spokesman said it was at that point, the ministry’s security guards “accosted” the reporters.
“We make haste to state that the report was a carefully crafted mendacious narrative calculated to tarnish the image of Fr Mbaka who in his amiable nature could not have done or directed any of those alleged acts of assault on the BBC team or anyone as alleged against him,” Vanguard quoted him as saying.
“An eye witness account of what happened reveals that one Fr Obiekeze (Cajetan) who estranged himself from the ministry and made a viral video with BBC recently abusing Fr Mbaka and his perceived romance with President Mohammadu Buhari, came to join Fr Mbaka at the altar during his last Wednesday’s weekly ministry programme.
“Unknown to anyone in the ministry, the said priest came with some persons with an unknown identity who were secretly recording the day’s ministry programme until they were accosted by the ministry security suspecting them to be assassins on a surveillance mission. The said ministry security seized the equipment of the strange fellows and sought to know their identities.
“Later in the evening after Fr Mbaka was through with the programme and retired to the parish house to continue his consultation with worshippers waiting to see him, altercations between the fellows and the security men at Fr Mbaka’s parish house drew Fr Mbaka’s attention to them and his timely intervention helped to save the situation.
“Fr Mbaka was surprised when the unknown fellows identified themselves as coming from BBC with Fr Obiekezie. Surprised by such obvious betrayal and stage-managed visit from a fellow priest, Fr Mbaka directed that every of their seized equipment be returned to them and made sure no one hurt either the priest or the unknown visitors he surreptitiously came with.”
Ugwuoke added that Mbaka did not invite the BBC team and was notified of their presence at the venue.