|Ogoja Diocesan Building|
The Catholic Diocese of Ogoja, Cross River State, has through its Diocesan Chancellor, Rev Fr. Matthew Otuji, issued a disclaimer over the activities of two priests, Rev. Frs. Peter Okoi of the Missionary Sons of St. Peter, MSP, and Alfred Umagu of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, MSP.
The statement by Otuji, stated specifically that Peter Okoi has without approval, opened a congregation using the name of the Diocese, while Alfred Umagu, joined the Old Catholic Apostolic Church. The Old Catholic Apostolic Church, from 1850s, had separated from the Roman Catholic Church over certain doctrines, primarily concerned with papal authority and the church is not in full communion with the Holy See.
The disclaimer stated that the local ordinary, “Bishop of Ogoja Diocese, Most Rev. Donatus Akpan has no knowledge of the congregation of the above-mentioned priests, neither did he give them any canonical or religious approval to carry out their activities.”
He said the priests, though natives of Cross River State, are not of Ogoja Diocese and neither of them was incardinated (ordained) into the Diocese.
Consequently, the Diocese directed priests, religious leaders and the laity to have nothing to do with them, their congregation or their programmes and activities.
“Also, the priests are not to be allowed in any parish or place of worship to celebrate mass in the Diocese. The Catholic faithful in Ogoja and beyond and the general public are warned to disregard these priests as Catholics and be careful not to be deceived by any of their activities,” the disclaimer stated.
Several attempts to reach the two priests were unsuccessful as calls to their phone numbers were not answered.
When contacted, a very senior priest in the Diocese, who elected to remain anonymous told Vanguard “The two priests cannot operate as if there is no Canon Law or even the basic rules of engagement as priests. What the local ordinary has simply done is wield the big stick and decisively tackle two errant priests so that the flock can remain one; I will say no more.”