Joe Effiong, Uyo
A middle-aged man, Mr Friday Ufenang, is fighting for his life in one of the public hospitals in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital, as a result of bullets pumped into him by suspected cultists, who invaded his church and shot him in the middle of prayer.
Daily Sun learned that Ufenang, an elder at a Pentecostal church, was in church conducting pre-service prayers at Inen Ikot Esse village, Oruk Anam Local Government Area on Sunday when the hoodlums invaded, shooting sporadically before targeting as other members scampered for safety.
It was gathered that the suspected cultists numbering about 10 stormed the church premises by 7:05 am and went straight to the vestry where church staff were praying before commencement of worship service .
Mr Sunday Ibanga, who witnessed the incident, said the elder was accosted and shot several times on the head, leaving him in a pool of blood, with other members of the church taking cover as the attackers went on a shooting spree in the church premises.
Ibanga said the incident happened on a day a new pastor posted to the church assumed duty, saying the new pastor reached out to the church’s regional headquarters for a vehicle to evaquate the victim to hospital for treatment .
Speaking at the hospital on Monday, the wife of the victim, Mrs Iniobong Ufenang, said her husband left for church early Sunday morning to attend to his duties, leaving her and the children at home to join him for the service later.
She said while preparing to join him in the church, she heard a commotion outside their compound from people who came to inform her that her husband had been shot in the church vestry during prayers.
‘When I heard that my husband had been shot, I summoned courage and rushed to the church just to carry the corpse for burial. But I met policemen who helped me to carry my husband to the hospital for first aid before the main treatment in this hospital.’ she said.
‘Since yesterday, my husband has been surviving on oxygen here in the emergency ward. We need money to pay for various tests before surgery to remove the bullets in his head.’
She said the incident occurred while there was negotiation between Debam and Iceland rival cult confraternities in the area to end protracted hostilities that has disrupted normal activities in the community.
‘One volunteer told me that he had visited the camp of the two cult groups and they all denied their roles in the incident. So, I don’t know where the gunmen came from to shot my husband.’
The Akwa Ibom State Police Command, confirming the incident through its spokesman, Odiko Mcdon, said the perpetrators of the crime would soon be arrested.
‘It was the police that rushed the victim to the hospital for treatment. The Commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, condemns the dastardly act and he has resolved to stem the tide of cultism in whatever form.
‘However, a deep investigation is ongoing to ensure that the perpetrators of such dastardly act face the wrath of the law. I assure you that they would be brought to book in no distant time,’ he said.
The Akwa Ibom State Government has repeatedly issued executive orders banning cultism, but the more they are banned the more daring cultists have become, especially in the Oruk Anam, Ukanafun, Ika, Etim Ekpo and Essien Udim districts of the State.
Informed sources told Daily Sun the ban was only a public show, claiming cultists and their politician sponsors are strategising to wreak havoc in 2022/23, should the need arise for their services, especially as Governor Udom Emmanuel has vowed not to handover to a cultist.