• We lost three persons -Family
• Police arrest suspects • Igwe Ozubulu speaks
Anyanwu, Awka, Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Alloy Attah, Onitsha and David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
Twenty–four hours after a gunman suspected to be a member of a drug cartel killed 11 worshippers and injured several others during an early morning Mass at St. Phillip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu community in Anambra State has remained haunted. During a visit to the community, yesterday, Daily Sun fear and tension were so visible that it could be cut with a saw blade. In fact, the natives are too scared to venture out of their homes or speak to strangers. Even among themselves, they discuss in whispers. Sorrows, tears and suspicion have replaced the effervescence and serenity that ones serenaded the sleepy town.
“Those who witnessed what happened yesterday (Sunday) are still in shock. We are still living in fear. Do you know that if you throw a knockout here, people will take to their heels?” a native, Mr. Calistus Ndukamma confirmed.
One of the families hit by the bloodbath is the Obunadikes. With the loss of three persons, tears and gnashing of teeth have replaced laughter in the household.
Mr. Joel Obunadike, who spoke to Daily Sun, said they still could not believe the death of his uncle, his brother’s wife and her little baby girl. They were reportedly mowed down by the gunman’s bullet during the early morning raid at the church.
He said the family was in deep shock hence he could hardly answer reporters’ questions.
“I just hope it is not true; let somebody please come and tell us that it is a mere dream. We are seriously praying…God, let this be a dream. God, if this is not a dream, don’t wake us up,” he wailed inconsolably.
He, however, asked the authorities to fish out the masterminds of the heinous crime, who he said have murdered sleep and, therefore, deserved no peace.
Chairman, Ekwusigo Local government, Ikenna Sylvester Ofodeme said the late female member of Obunadike family was carrying her child on her back when the bullet pierced her, went out through her chest and killed both baby and mother.
At the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital Nnewi, yesterday, the surviving victims were recuperating even as doctors worked relentlessly to ensure the patients were given adequate care.
One of the victims, Mr. Samuel Ndulue who sustained injuries in both legs recounted what happened.
“I was sitting on the third row, right in front of the church when it started. It was only one man that entered the church, but I suspected that their members were in a car outside. The man was dressed in all black attire, with a fez cap. Immediately he entered, he did not say a word or make any enquiry, the man entered through the back door that faces the altar. So, he stood close to one of the three doors of the church and immediately started shooting at everyone.
“I took cover, lying on the ground, but as the man continued to kill people, I decided to stand up and run towards the door because my thought is that the man may have enough bullets to finish everybody. It was while rushing towards the door that I broke my legs because the man was standing close to one door, leaving us with just two doors to escape.
“Most of the people who sustained injuries were those who tried to escape through the door, but because too many people were trying to rush through it at the same time, they sustained injuries.”
In a state broadcast, yesterday, Governor Willie Obiano said the state was dealing with a dangerous gang war that spilled over to Anambra State from another African country; a tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners from the town.
“I have been fully informed that this dangerous conflict has been going on for a while in the country where they both live outside Nigeria before they decided to bring the conflict home.
“But let me assure you that Anambra is too hot for them to operate. This explanation, I believe, has erased the fears that the incident may have been caused by either some terrorist organisations or some members of some groups of agitators in the country. Brothers and sisters, what happened in Ozubulu was neither a terror attack as we know it, nor a violent action by some agitators.”
The Governor declared today a day of mourning.
“We shall observe a minute of silence in their honour at 12 noon today and special prayers shall be offered for them in churches and prayer houses across Nigeria and in the Diaspora. We have also opened a Condolence Register for them in the Government House,” he said.
The state Police Command said it had arrested some suspects.
“Some arrests have been made but I cannot disclose their names and numbers now in order not to jeopardize the investigation,” Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Garba said.
He, however, urged the people to give police relevant information on crimes and criminalities, especially on the Ozubulu massacre, assuring that the police would bring to book the culprits.
The traditional ruler of Ozubulu, Obi Fidelix Nnandi Oruche charged government and the security agents to fish out the attackers and punish them accordingly.
He noted that it was sacrilegious for anybody no matter any provocation to go into the church and attack innocent worshippers.
Obi Oruche said his community was known for peace and had not witnessed such a wicked act before.
He maintained that the community would only be pacified, if the perpetrators were arrested and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others who might want to involve in such violent act.
On alleged business disagreement involving their sons living in South Africa that might have led to the incident, as claimed by the police, he said people should be careful the way they make negative comments about Ozubulu.
“How can anybody be talking about business transaction disagreement when people were shot and killed while worshiping in the church. You should talk about people who lost their lives and not business transaction,” he stated.
Osinbajo vows to bring killers to book
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has vowed to bring to book those behind Sunday’s vicious attacks on St. Philip’s Catholic Church Ozubulu in Anambra.
According to the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, Osinbajo had been receiving regular updates on the status of investigations regarding what he called “atrocious and mindless acts of violence.”
The statement read: “The acting president has been in touch with the Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano, police authorities and other security agencies, and assures that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes would be brought to justice.
“Prof. Osinbajo condemns the despicable acts of violence, and commiserates with families, relatives, friends of the victims, the entire people and the government of Anambra State.”
...IPOB demands inquiry
The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has called for an independent and transparent panel of inquiry to probe the attack, which claimed the lives of 11 persons including a pregnant woman and small children.
A statement by the Media and Publicity Secretary of IPOB, Mr. Emma Powerful, said it was a threat being faced by Ndigbo each day they delayed their exit from Nigeria.
“This massacre of our people in Ozubulu as with other indiscriminate slaughter of our people around Nigeria is a constant reminder to us all of the threat we face each day we delay our exit from Nigeria. Unfortunately for us, these heinous crimes will be visited upon us at predictable intervals until we collectively summon the courage to demand for our right to a referendum that will settle this once and for all time”.
“It won’t come to us as a surprise if after all the investigations it turns out that those behind this despicable crime are individuals sponsored by dark forces within Nigeria intent on destabilising the IPOB’s relentless march towards the liberation of Biafra and other ethnic nationalities… We believe that no sane mind can attribute this level of evil terrorist attack on Ozubulu as a direct result of a business transaction gone wrong in far away South Africa.”
IPOB said it was unfortunate that government of Anambra State and Nigeria security agencies, especially the police who are required to enter into detailed investigation with the view to apprehending the culprits, merely concluded within an hour that they know the cause and the perpetrators of the crime.
“We don’t know when Nigerian Police acquired this level of efficiency and excellence that enabled them to conclude their investigations within an hour. Does it mean they had prior knowledge of the crime and if so why weren’t measures put in place to preempt it?
“Also, it is very dangerous that the countless Police and Army check points along the roads in Anambra State, especially along Onitsha-Owerri Road leading to Ozubulu did not intercept the murderers, given that crime detection and prevention is often cited as the main reason why AK47 brandishing police and army recruits litter Biafran roads…Instead of carrying out thorough scrutiny of vehicles, they are busy collecting money from frightened motorists”.
It said vowed to alert the international community, men and women of good conscience to prevail on Nigeria and Anambra State government to constitute an independent and transparent panel of inquiry to ascertain what actually happened because the level of brutality was unheard of in Anambra State and entire Biafranland.
The Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF), Southern Nigeria People’s Mandate (SNPM) and Civil Organization of Organization (CLO) also condemned the attack.
President of NUF and SNPM, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum described it as barbaric, satanic, sacrilegious and inhuman act that called for sober reflection due to level of moral decay in the society.
“We hereby call on the police to arrest those involved in this genocide against God and humanity, they will never go unpunished no matter how connected they are the full wrath of justice must be enforced,” it stated.