*Ikegwuonu not a drug pusher —Ofomata
I*t’s shameful, sacrilegious —OPC
*They’ve attacked God —Okorocha
*Don’t rush into conclusion on cause of shooting —PG, Ozubulu Town Union
By Chioma Gabriel, Vincent Ujumadu, John Bosco Agbakwuru & Chinonso Alozie
Awka— THE Anambra State Police Command, yesterday, invited the chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Mr Ikenna Ofodeme; President-General of Ozubulu Town Union and Chairman of Ebubechukwuzo Foundation owned by Aloysius Ikegwuonu, Mr Jovita Ofomata, over last Sunday’s shooting incident at St Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu in which many worshippers were killed and many others injured.
This came as Ofomata said the person suspected to be the target of the Sunday attack, Mr Aloysius Ikegwuonu, was never a drug baron as being insinuated in some quarters.
This came as Yoruba socio-cultural group, Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, condemned the Sunday’s killings, demanding that those behind the coldblooded slaughter be immediately unearthed and brought to justice.
The three indigenes of Ozubulu were questioned on what they knew about the people being associated with the incident and other issues relating to the personalities suspected to be involved in the crisis.
Their interactions with the police, Vanguard gathered, lasted less than one hour.
Ikegwuonu not a drug pusher —Ofomata
Describing Ikegwuonu as a very kind man, Ofomata said: “I am surprised at what people are saying about him. He is one man you will meet, and you would like to meet him again. It is through his foundation that he built the Catholic church where this incident happened. That is not the only Catholic church he has built.
“Two other Catholic churches, St Aloysius at Eziora Ozubulu and St Francis at Egbema Ozubulu, were also built by him. Through this foundation, he has helped so many people and also granted scholarships to many students in Ozubulu and beyond.
“What happened on Sunday has left us in a state of confusion and up until now, I must tell you that I am convinced that the act is a terror attack.
“There are so many stories flying around which are not true. People are saying there is a problem between Ebubechukwuzo and some other people and I can tell you that is not true, because till now, he has not lodged any complaint that he has a problem with anyone.
“So I don’t know where that information came from. People say he is a drug lord, and that he took money belonging to another gang. So many stories, and I can tell you that we are even confused where some of these stories are coming from.
“What I can only say about this, is that we will leave the police and other security agencies to do their work, and we urge them to do it well, and I believe the outcome of it will help us to know what happened.”
Nature of his business
On the nature of his business, Ofomata said: “He is an estate developer in South Africa. He has built so many houses even here in Nigeria and sold them. He is also into property management, and he is an importer. He deals on beverages, spare parts, which he imports from China. Ebubechukwuzo is not a drug pusher.
“Concerning when he will be back, I can tell you he will be back by next week. We told him what happened and he is surprised and he will be coming by next week to take care of his father’s corpse.”
It’s shameful, sacrilegious —OPC
In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, by Founder of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, the group described the massacre as shameful and sacrilegious.
He said: “The killing of these innocent worshippers is one incident too many. Happening in that serene rural environment, it demeans all Nigerians. It shows that nowhere in this country is safe. There is total breakdown of law and order in Nigeria as a whole.”
He urged investigators to solicit the assistance of the International Police.
“Perpetrators must be speedily brought to book. If there is an international connection to this callousness, as Governor Willie Obiano and the Commissioner of Police have said, then the assistance of Interpol must be solicited to extradite those concerned back to Nigeria for investigation, prosecution and conviction.”
OPC commiserated with the Ozubulu community and the families of those who lost their loved ones in the attack. The organisation lamented that Nigerians lived in constant fear from assassins, kidnappers and insurgents.
It said: “This country has now entered a state of anomie where life is short and brutish. Nowhere appears to be safe: Not Lagos, not Port Harcourt or Akure or Maiduguri or Jos. If Nigeria is at war, let us know. Government may just as well declare the entire Nigeria a war zone.”
They’ve attacked God —Okorocha
Also, yesterday, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State described the killings as a direct attack on God.
Okorocha was quoted in a release to newsmen by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemedo, when the representative of Pope to Togo and Benin Republic, His Grace, Most Rev. Brain Udaigwe, paid him a visit at Government House, Owerri.
The governor added that the situation had taken a criminal dimension.
According to the release, “those who carried out the attack had directly attacked God although the gunmen had succeeded in killing and wounding some people. It is a matter that has taken a different criminal dimension and never experienced in our recent time.
“The governor of Anambra State has told me that there is a clue to who committed the crime and I have suggested that the culprit be immediately brought to book and make to pay for what he has done.”
On the issue of Ahiara Diocese crisis, Okorocha asked the Pope to take decisive action.
He said: “The issue of Ahiara is of great concern to Imo people. There is no better person to communicate to the Pope than you. I have been to Ahiara on several occasions preaching the gospel of peace.
“The matter in Ahiara has gotten to the point of ego and egoism and this is the time for the Pope to take the rightful decision and restore peace in the area. I know what is wrong but this is not the time to discus who is wrong or what is wrong in order to save the Christians in that part of the world.”
Don’t rush into conclusion on cause of shooting—P-G, Ozubulu Town Union
Also, speaking, yesterday, President-General of Ozubulu Development Union, ODU, Dr Ernest Chukwuka, said: “I called a meeting of Ozubulu stakeholders and there we decided on some of the things we will do. I must confess that we are not happy, we are mourning, this is a great shock to us, and it will take some time for us to come out of this shock, but with God on our side, we will come out of it.
“One of the things we decided to do after our meeting, yesterday, is to visit the victims and give them some assistance.
“As we are visiting them in the respective hospitals where they are being treated, we are getting their names and their villages, and we are still going to visit the mortuaries where the corpses are kept.”
Asked to comment on the alleged business dispute between their sons in South Africa that was brought home, which allegedly resulted to the shooting, Dr Chukwuka said he was not aware of such dispute.
He said: “We are still investigating, people should not just jump into conclusion, nobody can give account of what transpired that led to this attack. We cannot even tell you that this is the cause, or that is the cause, we are still investigating .”