Roadside robbery delays Nigerian bishop's arrival at Lambeth
by Allan Reeder
An encounter with roadside bandits robbed a Nigerian bishop of the first week of the Lambeth Conference. Bishop Vincent Muoghereh reached Canterbury on July 25, one week after most other bishops arrived.
The late arrival came after the bishop and his wife were robbed at gun-point in Nigeria, thieves escaping with his car, passport and visa. In Canterbury at last, Bishop Muoghereh told how his car was run off the road by a gang of robbers. The drama unfolded June 19 when the bishop was making the 400-kilometre return trip from Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to his home diocese of Ughelli in the centralsouth of Nigeria, after collecting his visa from the British embassy.
The bishop's car was overtaken at high speed and edged off the road into the bush. The four robbers ``brought out guns and ordered us to get out of the car,'' Bishop Muoghereh said. The bishop, his wife, Blessing Muoghereh, and their driver were ordered to lie on the ground. After threatening to back the car over them, the gang drove off, taking cash as well as the bishop's passport and new visa.
The bishop called the robbery ``very frightening.'' He learnt later that the same gang had earlier held up passengers on a bus and had shot one woman. While the car was later found abandoned, Bishop Muoghereh discovered that it would take at least two weeks to replace his visa. His flight to England had to be delayed. Calls from Conference Manager David Long to British immigration authorities helped arrange the new visa, but Bishop Muoghereh and his wife still arrived one week late.The bishop said he was ``embarrassed to be the only one left at home.'' The travel obstacles continued for the bishop and his wife when a suitcase was off-loaded at Frankfurt by mistake.
While the bishop
has missed the first week of the conference, the impact of the theft of money has
been somewhat eased. Bishop Muoghereh, only recently consecrated as a bishop, had
intended to use the stolen money to purchase episcopal robes during his visit to
England. One of the Conference Market-Place stall-holders, Henwoods from Folkestone,
has offered to supply him with a new cassock at no charge.