Catholic Bishop in Nigeria Suspends Priest for Engaging “in partisan politics”

Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia, suspended in Nigeria's Gboko Diocese for engaging himself in “partisan politics”. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Bishop of Nigeria’s Gboko Diocese has suspended Fr. Hyacinth Iormem Alia for engaging himself in “partisan politics”.

In a letter dated Friday, May 20, Bishop William Amove Avenya announces the suspension from public ministry of Fr. Hyacinth Alia who allegedly, alongside 11 other successful aspirants for a gubernatorial seat, has been cleared to participate in the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, one of the two major political parties in Nigeria, alongside the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“I write to communicate to you the suspension of my priest, Revd. Fr. Hyacinth Iormem ALIA from public ministry after series of admonitions to him Ex can. 1371,2o CIC,” Bishop Avenya says in the letter shared with ACI Africa.

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop explains, “The Mother Church does not allow her clerics to get involved in partisan politics on their own Ex can. 285, 3 CIC.”

“You are aware that my son, your brother and your priest has purchased the party forms to contest for the Office of the Governor of Benue State under the All Progressives' Congress (APC), which is totally against our vocation,” the Catholic Bishop adds.


Therefore, he continues, “to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the Church in the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, I have suspended him from the exercise of sacred ministry.”

“This canonical suspension takes effect from the moment it is communicated to him and lasts until he ceases from contumacy,” Bishop Avenya says, and adds, “Be assured of my prayerful best wishes, I remain, Fatherly.”

Reacting to the suspension of Fr. Hyacinth, the Head of Media and Publicity, Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization, Kula Tersoo, said the development is “a normal practice of the Church.”

“Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia wishes to inform members, stakeholders and leaders of the APC family in Benue state that the suspension order pronounced on him by His Lordship, the Bishop of Gboko Catholic Diocese, William Avenya, is a normal practice of the church”.

Fr. Hyacinth, Mr. Tersoo say, “is implicitly officially freed to go on fully with his strides to rescue Benue from total collapse,” 

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“Recall that Rev. Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu of blessed memory who served as the second Executive Governor of Benue state went through the same process. His footprints are visible for all to see,” Mr. Tersoo has been quoted as saying in a May 21 report.

The officials of the Alia 2023 Gubernatorial Organization further says that Fr. Hyacinth “is only suspended from celebrating public Eucharistic Masses, but he remains a priest of the Catholic Church forever. After his tenure ends in public civil service, he shall resume his public Masses and Ministry.”

In the May 21 Vanguard report, Fr. Hyacinth is quoted as saying, “From the day I took the decision to answer the overwhelming calls of my people to contest the Governorship of Benue with the aim to rescue our people from the shackles of maladministration, I was fully aware of the sacrifice I was going to make.”

“I am convinced that it is worth the cause I am fighting to serve the souls of Benue people and the State. I have a freer leverage to give more time to achieving this pursuit,” the Nigerian Catholic Priest is further quoted as saying. 

“As stated in the last paragraph of the suspension letter, I shall return to the public pulpit after I must have served out my mandate as the Governor of Benue state,” he says.


He continues, “I remain resolute and please don’t be anxious either because I am well prepared and focused. More importantly, I am more charged because I have seen the genuineness in the agitations for me to step in and help salvage the already sorry situation the state has found itself for some time.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.