News

October 14, 2017

Still on that Ozubulu church shooting – Rose Moses

Ozubulu

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

By tomorrow, it will be 10 weeks, two full months and a half that the gruesome murder of worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra state, happened. And no one or group, yet, seems to have been found responsible.

On Sunday, August 6, 2017, precisely, gunmen found their way into the Church where worshippers were observing the early morning Mass. And by the time they left, scores of innocent Nigerians were killed, at least 12. A lot more worshippers received serious gunshot injuries from the tragic incident.

Ozubulu

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

Police Commissioner in the state, Mr. Garba Baba Umar, would immediately connect the shooting to a long standing rift between two alleged drug dealers from the community, both of who were said to reside in South Africa.

Umar, who told Channels Television shortly after the incident that the attack was not unconnected with gang violence between some indigenes of the state, sounded like he was armed with details that many thought by now, the case would have been closed, or substantial progress made.

His words then: “Information further revealed that this is not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war’ between indigenes of the state—children of the same village—who are engaged in warfare outside Nigeria, precisely, in South Africa.”

Not many Nigerians, however, were convinced by the hasty conclusion. This speed with which CP Umar almost concluded on who the perpetrators were, how they went into the church, who they were looking for and so on, did not cut it for many. More so, when the worshippers were still in shock and could not possibly give accurate account, or say for sure if they recognized any of the shooters. Or their motive(s).

State Governor Willie Obiano, who also visited the scene shortly after, it would appear, came to chorus Amen, to the Police Commissioner’s Hallelujah. Obiano, in line with the CP’s earlier narrative, said intelligence reports linked the attack to a feud between two kingpins in Ozubulu—Aloysius Ikegwuonu and one Chinedu Akpunonu (a.k.a Oborocho), both of whom live outside Nigeria.

After elaborating on his understanding of how the two drug warlords had been at each other’s throat, Obiano also concluded that the Church shooting was an importation of crime between the two alleged drug kingpins into the community and the state. He promised investigation would commence immediately to bring perpetrators to book.

Interestingly, and about nine days later, the alleged target, Ikegwuonwu, better known as Bishop, who was said to have built the church, but incidentally, was not among the worshippers at the time, and whose father was said to have been shot instead, returned to the community and actually visited victims of the shooting at the hospital they were being treated.

‘Bishop’ would tell anyone willing to listen that he knew nothing of the killing and as a matter of fact, issued a statement to the effect that he has never been arrested nor convicted for any drug related offence before, claiming that all his businesses are legitimate and duly registered.

He described the Church killing as an unprecedented evil that deserves full investigation to unmask the perpetrators.

That’s not all. He requested all those linking him with the killing to retract his name from the defamatory stories, threatening that failure to do so and any further linking of his name with the incident will force him to take legal action against those he described as “purveyors of the defamatory false story.”

That, to the best of the knowledge of most Nigerians, is the last piece of information they would hear of the bloodshed. That, today, appears to be the much in public domain on the horrific incident of August 6 that evoked national outcry. Twelve lives wasted, just like that and all crying out for justice!

In typical Nigerian fashion, this one incident too may have been overtaken by so many ugly events and Nigerians, characteristically, have moved on. Not many, beside family members of the victims, still remember the incident, or so it appears.  No justice yet, if ever, for those murdered in cold blood.

One would have expected that since the state police boss, Umar, and chief security officer of the state, Governor Obiano, from their statements, knew from the onset those behind the incident, it shouldn’t be taking this long to bring the perpetrators to book.

In other words, isn’t it natural that since both CP Umar and Governor Obiano had early clue on who the perpetrators were, they (perpetrators) should have by now, be made to face the music?

Or are the revelations by the CP, as corroborated by Governor Obiano, all fake news? Could it be that these two were wrong in the narratives, after all?

If so, who murdered, in cold blood, worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church in Ozubulu?