Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Dr Samuel Ortom, last Sunday stunned the congregation of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Dagba, Adagi, in Kwande local government area of Benue State when he suddenly knelt down and pleaded for forgiveness for the assault of the Parish Priest in 2011.
An academic and his political associate, Dr Didymus Tamen, of Bingham University, Abuja, had invited the governorship aspirant to a thanksgiving service to mark the attainment of an academic Doctor of Philosophy, PhD.
Rev. Fr. Fidelis Terfa Akume, the former parish priest, was assaulted by hoodlums suspected to have been sponsored by a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during a planned thankgiving service for an opposition politician.
Chief Dr Ortom admitted that the attack was wrong before God and man and appealed for forgiveness from both parties.
He said as one of the leaders of the party at the national level he had accepted guilt even though he was not personally liable.
The Minister pledged that he would also assist in inviting the Governor of the State, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, who was the party leader at that level to personally find time to visit the church for reconciliation.
Chief Dr Ortom stated that as a committed Christian he took the things of God very serious saying if one removed divine interventions in his life nothing would be left stressing that if given the mandate he would govern with the fear of God which would promote core values including forgiveness and reconciliation which he described as the bedrock of unity, peace and development.
The current Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Pius Uzan Keji, had stated that he at first declined the request for the service so as to avoid a repeat of the previous incidence until the organizers convinced him that the Governor would be in attendance to address the issue and that it was also intended to raise funds for the roofing of the new church building.
Dr. Tamen stated that he had invited associates and well wishers to join him to express gratitude to God for the academic attainment as well as to contribute resources to the roofing of the church which was the wish of his late brother, Professor Fred Tamen of the Benue State University, who lost his life in a vehicle accident.
Spokesman of Ikyurav-ya Political Leaders, Hon Moses Gbande, a former member of the House of Representatives, said Chief Dr Ortom had supported the community’s dream of getting the first indigene into the Benue State Executive Council and enjoined people of the area to also support his aspiration.
Fourteen assorted groups decorated the Minister with various Tiv cultural attires and presented gifts to him including different kinds of foodstuffs and domestic animals as a demonstration of support and appreciation.
He also inaugurated three offices donated by supporters in Adagi and Adikpo towns.