Doctors at the Accident and Emergency Unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA), Ebonyi State are battling to save the life of a Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Mathew Orie. Orie was reportedly beaten to coma at Abakaliki rice mill for refusing to give a revenue agent at the gate N500.
The priest, who is the principal of Girls’ Technical College, Agba in Ishielu Local Government Area, had gone to the mill to buy rice for his students.
He had reportedly paid all necessary revenues to enable him to take the rice out of the mill before he was accosted by one of the revenue agents, who demanded that he must be settled before taking the bags of rice out of the mill.
“Having been told that he has cleared every fee, Fr. Orie decided to carry his goods out of the gate and refused to pay N500 a tout asked him to pay. It was at this point that the tout descended on him and beat him to pulp. “It was policemen who were contacted that came and took him to the hospital where he is currently receiving treatment,” a witness said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Loveth Odah, confirmed the incident. The PPRO disclosed that a motorcycle belonging to the suspect, which he abandoned while fleeing had been recovered by the police while efforts were on to apprehend him.
She said: “The police commissioner received a distress call that there was an issue at the rice mill. A reverend father went to the rice mill to buy rice. After buying the rice, he was cleared and was given a receipt of clearance that he can pass or go with the rice. “A man just emerged from nowhere and claimed that he is part of the rice mill revenue collectors and supposed to be settled by the Catholic priest.
The cleric told the agent that he has been cleared having paid all necessary revenues. One of the revenue collectors told the agent to allow the reverend father to pass because he has settled everything and he is a priest.
“The agent then descended on the reverend father when some of the revenue collectors removed a blockade at the gate to enable the cleric to pass. The cleric fainted and he was rushed to the hospital. But as I am speaking with you, he is responding to treatment. “The boy abandoned his motorcycle and escaped immediately. The police have discovered his motorcycle. Efforts are on to arrest the suspect.”