The Catholic Diocese of Gboko in Benue State, on Saturday, suspended Reverend Father, Hycainth Alia, for showing interest in the 2023 governorship contest in the state.
Father Alia is one of the 12 aspirants who purchased the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to participate in the party’s governorship primary election.
A letter addressed to all priests, religious and laity of the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, dated May 20, 2022 and signed by the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Gboko, Bishop William Avenya, who is also Apostolic Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Kastina-Ala, has already gone viral.
The letter stated that Father Alia had earlier been warned in line with the Catholic Church’s rule on partisan politics.
According to the viral suspension letter, “I write to communicate to you the suspension of my priest, Rev Fr. Hyacinth Iornem Alia from public ministry after series of admonitions to him.
“The mother church does not allow her clerics to get involved in partisan politics on their own Ex can. 285, 3 CIC. You’re aware that my son, your brother and your priest has purchased the party’s form to contest for the office of the governor of Benue State under the All Progressives Congress, which is usually against our vocation.
“Therefore, to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the church in the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, I have suspended him from exercise of sacred ministry. This canonical suspension takes effect from the moment it is communicated to him and lasts until he ceases from contumacy.”
Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization, Kula Tersoo, in his reaction to Father Alia’s suspension, said the action was a normal practice of the church.
Tersoo explained that as stated clearly in Father Alia’s suspension letter, the priest was only suspended from celebrating public Eucharistic masses, but remains a priest of the Catholic Church.
He added that when Father Alia’s tenure in public service ends, he shall resume his public masses and ministry.
Father Alia’s spokesman said his principal remained resolute, urging his supporters not to exercise any fear because the cleric was well prepared and focused.
Tersoo argued that he there was genuineness in the agitations for Father Alia to step in and assist in salvaging the state.
Alia’s spokesman recalled that a former civilian governor of the state, late Rev. Fr. Moses Adasu, was given similar treatment by the Church.