The Catholic Diocese of Gboko in Benue State, has suspended Reverend Father Hyacinth Iornem Alia, for expressing interest in the state governorship contest.
The priest is among the 12 governorship aspirants who purchased expression of interest and nomination forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to participate in the party’s primary election.
However, a suspension 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, indicated that the affected priest was earlier warned in line with the church’s rule on partisan politics.
The letter read, “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,” the letter said.
“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 last until he ceases from contumacy.”
Reacting to the suspension, Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization, Kula Tersoo, said it was a normal practice of the church.
According him, as stated clearly in the letter of suspension, Alia was only suspended from celebrating public Eucharistic masses, but that he remains a priest of the Catholic Church forever, adding that when his tenure ends in public civil service he shall resume his public masses and ministry.
Tersoo said his principal remains resolute as he urged supporters not to be anxious because the cleric is well prepared and focused, stressing that he had seen the genuineness in the agitations for him to step in and help salvage the situation in the state.
He recalled that a former Governor of the state, the late Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu, who served as the second civilian governor of the state went through the same process.