Doctors at the accident and emergency unit of the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA) are battling to save the life of a Catholic Priest who was beaten to a coma for allegedly refusing to pay a N500 levy.
According to reports, Rev. Fr. Mathew Orie was beaten to a coma by a revenue agent at the Abakaliki Rie Mill company complex on Monday evening. The ‘man of God’ was said to have refused to pay an illegal levy of N500.
Rev. Fr. Orie is the Principal of Girls’ Technical College Agba in Ishielu local government area of the state.
He had gone to the mill to buy rice for students of his school and reportedly paid all necessary revenues that will qualify him to evacuate the rice out of the mill.
But the agent, whose identity is yet to be ascertained, accosted him and demanded that he must be settled before transporting the bags of rice out of the industry.
The priest had wanted to pay the sum of N500 the agent demanded from him when other revenue collectors told him that he has cleared all the revenues.
“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 a pulp.
“It was a team of policemen that was contacted that came and carried him to the hospital where he is currently receiving treatment”, a witness said.
Police spokesman, Loveth Odah confirmed the incident.
She disclosed that motorcycle belonging to the suspect which he abandoned and escaped has been recovered by the police while efforts are in top gear to apprehend him.
“The Commissioner of Police received a distress call that there was an issue at rice mill, that a Rev. Fr. went to rice mill to buy rice and 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 the necessary revenues. One of the revenue collectors told
the agent to allow the Reverend Fr. to pass that 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 but he was rushed to the hospital but as I am speaking to you, he is responding to treatment.”
She said the boy abandoned his motorcycle and escaped immediately adding that effort is on top gear to arrest the suspect.