NIGERIA: Fr Hyacinth Alia, Gubernatorial Candidate for Benue Suspended by Church

By Paschal Norbert

BENUE, MAY 24, 2022 (CISA)- Rev Fr Hyacinth Iormen Alia, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Gboko and gubernatorial candidate for Benue State, has been suspended from the Sacred Ministry in a publication made on May 20, by Bishop William Amove Amenya.

The Nigerian cleric was suspended from public ministry “after a series of admonitions” following his decision to join the Benue State 2023 Governorship race under the All Progressives Congress, APC, party.

“The Mother Church does not allow her clerics to engage in partisan politics on their own Ex can. 285,3 CIC. You are aware that my son, your brother and your priests has purchased the party forms to contest for the Office of the Governor of Benue State under the All-Progressive’s Congress (APC), which is totally against our vacation,” said the bishop in a letter to all priests, religious and laity in the diocese of Gboko.

“Therefore, 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 the sacred ministry,” he added.

It is reported that Fr Alia is a well-known personality within the Catholic Church in Nigeria due to his charismatic and healing ministry synonymous with his name “Fr Alia’s Healing Ministry.”

He attended the St Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos, (affiliate of the University of Ibadan) Nigeria, where he obtained a Diploma in Religious Studies in 1987 and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sacred Theology in 1990 from the Pontifical Urbaniana University. He was ordained on July 7, 1990, for the Catholic Diocese of Makurdi before he was incardinated into the Catholic Diocese of Gboko, his home diocese.

According to reports seen by CISA, in 1999, Fr Alia went to Fordham University, Bronx NY, for a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Education (psychology and counselling). In 2004, he studied at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for another Master of Arts Degree in Biomedical Ethics, and further obtained a Doctorate in Biomedical Ethics at the same University in 2005.

The priest turned politician has served in various capacities both at his local diocese and while abroad, and until recently at Bishop Usuh Institute for Learning, Vandeiky, as Director and Resident Priest at Ikyaator Pastoral Area.

However, he is not the only Catholic priest to have left the pulpit for politics. He joins in the history books, the late Fr. Moses Orshio Adasu who became the first cleric to be governor of Benue State on January 2, 1992. He was elected on the Social Democratic Party (SDP) platform. He was, however, ousted from office in a military coup in 1993, in which strongman General Sani Abacha came to power.

In the letter, Bishop Amenya mentions that “the canonical suspension takes effect from the moment it is communicated to him and lasts until he ceases from contumacy.”