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Ozubulu: No worship at St Philip’s Church until Police leave – Nnewi Diocese

By Vincent Ujumadu & Chimaobi Nwaiwu

Awka—PARISHIONERS of St Philip’s Catholic Church, Amakwa-Ozubulu, where a happy-trigger gunman opened fire during church service last Sunday, leading to the death of 13 worshippers and injuring of many others, may have to wait longer to use the church as Vanguard can confirm that an alternative venue for next Sunday’s service was being looked for.

Stern-looking policemen were still guarding the church, yesterday, and it was gathered that they might not be leaving in the next few days.

This is even as the Ozubulu community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area Anambra State, yesterday, described the list of casualties of the attack as incomplete.

Director of Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Nnewi, Rev Father Hyginus Aghaulo, told Vanguard in a telephone interview that the diocese would not force the police out of the church because they were doing their work.

Ozubulu
St. Philip Catholic Church, Umuezekwe Ofufe, Amakwa Ozubulu, attacked by gunmen, yesterday. Right: Blood stains after the killings in the church.

He said: “There are many aspects to the Ozubulu incident and because it is a criminal offence, we are not going to pressurize the police to leave the church without completing their work.

“If the police remove the security gadgets mounted round the church, we will use it on Sunday; otherwise we will find an alternative place. There is no way we can muscle the police out of the church.”

Fr Aghaulo added that the diocese also had to manage the aspect of the allegation by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, that the attack was masterminded by terrorists.

Problem started 10 years ago—Monarch

Meanwhile, the traditional leader of the town, Igwe Nnamdi Oruche, said the problem in his domain started about 10 years ago when Ozubulu Development Union, ODU, which has a branch in South Africa, wanted to elect a new president-general there.

He said: “This created a major disagreement over who would be their leader in that country and it eventually tore them apart. But the overall President General both in Ozubulu and in Diaspora, Norbert Anigbogu, intervened by inviting the two factions back home for a peaceful resolution of the problem.

“When they returned, a traditional oath was prepared for them to take in order to enthrone brotherliness among them and to further quell the rift between the factions, but most of them refused to take the oath on the basis that they are Christians.

“At that point, an alternative was made and a Catholic priest, Rev. Father Chidolue was invited to perform the Christian aspect of oath-taking, which was done and everyone appreciated it.

“But later, the conflict was rekindled by some of them who reneged on the agreement made during the oath-taking, alleging that since I, the traditional ruler, was not present during the exercise, the reconciliation was null, void and improper.”

The monarch said that despite the disagreement, another executive of ODU three years ago, went further to invite Alloysius Ikegwuonwu-led group and the rival group to return home for another peace move, adding that after appealing to them to maintain peace, the aggrieved parties visited the Blessed Sacrament of St. Michael Catholic Church, Ozubulu, where they also embraced themselves as brothers and became happy with each other again.

Similar bloody scenario in 2007

The monarch also recalled that Ozubulu witnessed a similar bloody scenario in 2007 when four vigilante members from the community were murdered in cold blood in Ukpor, a neighbouring town, adding that it was a man on the palm tree that saw the killers when they were cutting off some of their body parts.

The royal father called on the state and Federal Governments to assist the community in tracking the killer squad and bring them to book, promising that the people of the community would not rest on their oars until the needful is done.

“We have an old culture, so our traditional deities will bring them out when the rituals are done by us at the appropriate time,” Igwe Oruche said.

Community faults names of casualties

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of  ODU, Dr Chukwuka Ernest, has said the names of the casualties released by the Nnewi Catholic Diocese are only those hospitalized at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH, Nnewi.

According to him, “they did not include the names of those at Trauma Centre Orthopedic Hospital, Oba, and those at Access Hospital, Ozubulu. I have the comprehensive list of the victims and their names and where they come from, but we have not decided to release it.

“As a matter of fact, I am taking the list today to State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Awka, which will confirm what we have done. SEMA can do its investigation with the list we are giving it today.”

 


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