9 Aug 2017

Ozubulu Church Massacre: Governor Obiano should shut up now!


Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi

A still from a video of St. Philip’s Church in Anambra, Nigeria, after it was attacked. The police commissioner for Anambra State, Garba Umar, said the shootings there were “not unconnected to a kind of a ‘gang war.’”CreditChannels Tv, via Reuters

Blood stains after the killing in the Church
So far, the police claim to have arrested some alleged suspects over last Sunday massacre of innocent Novus Ordo worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra State, but refuse to disclose their identity, their reason being that “it is a sensitive matter and we have to tread with caution.”

Police Commissioner Garba Umar
Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, who is about to contest for a second term by November this year, following the earlier police report, insists that the attack has nothing to do with terrorists but is “a gang war that had spilled over to the state from another African country.” — meaning the alleged feud between the two Ozubulu brothers (the alleged drug dealers). It was alleged that the attack was a spill-over of a drug related feud, between two Ozubulu brothers who live in South Africa, one of whom built the Church. The main matter was said to be between Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu, a.k.a Bishop, (rumoured to be a drug baron), and another Ozubulu man popularly known as Obrocho. It was alleged that the gunmen had traced Chief Aloysius to his house, but were told he had gone to church where he was meant to hold “a thanksgiving service”. 

Some of the earliest reports even said Aloysius’ father was among those shot dead in the church. But we learnt from a reliable source that the old man was shot while in the Church and was rushed to Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital after the incident. He was badly injured and being an old man, he died the next day, August 7.
  Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital where Pa Ikegwuonu died on Monday, August 7.


But the Chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government Area (within which Ozubulu is located), Mr Ikenna Ofodeme, dismissed this police/Obiano allegation. Hear him:

“This young man, Aloysius Ikegwuonu, they are calling based on the police report has built more than three churches in Ekwusigo communities. He is currently building a new one in one of the communities. He left this country two days ago.”

“If he was the target and he did a business transaction that resulted to this killing, those who are pursuing him would have killed him at the football pitch.  He played inter-village match a week ago before he left the country for his base. Some are quoting the governor of the state. The governor was briefed by the police and whatever he said, he should not be blamed because it was security agents that briefed him, and he must tell the people of the state what he was briefed on.

The shooting happened in the church.  Why didn’t the people go to his house or his father’s house?  What business has shooting people in the church got to do with business transaction between alleged drug pushers? This is purely a terrorist attack and has nothing to do with a drug pusher’s disagreement in South Africa with our son."
Ikegwuonu
In the same vein, the traditional ruler of Ozubulu community, Obi Fidelix Nnandi Oruche, dismissed the police/Obiano report and maintains that those saying so want to destroy the name of Ozubulu. “How can anybody be talking about business transaction disagreement when people were shot and killed while worshiping in the church? There is no relationship between shooting people in the church and business transaction by anybody. We are not aware of such disagreement,” he said.

Also, the President-General of Ozubulu Town Union and Chairman of Ebubechukwuzo Foundation owned by Aloysius Ikegwuonu, Mr Jovita Ofomata, has dismissed the allegation that Mr Aloysius Ikegwuonu is a drug pusher. 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.” 
Ofomata
Already people like Ofomata are currently being questioned by the police. (See: Ozubulu killings: Police invite LG chairman, Ozubulu Town Union PG, Ikegwuonu’s aide).

Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader, Indigenous People of Biafra, calls for a forensic examination to ascertain the type of bullet used in the attack.
  
“We are asking for a forensic examination to be conducted to ascertain the type of bullet used in the attack. It makes a mockery of the entire security system that people can work into a town and massacre innocent civilians and walk away. Where are the security agencies? All options should remain open because our people are not known for gang killings. It is alien to us”, he said.

Kanu
Below are comments of the above mentioned individuals on the Ozubulu Church massacre, taken — or rather, selected — from a report by Vanguard newspaper of Tuesday, August 8, 2016, entitled: Ozubulu horror attack: How gunmen killed my three relations:

We’ve made arrests, but… — Police

Police authorities in Abuja, on Monday, confirmed that three persons have been arrested over last Sunday’s killing inside a church at Ozubulu, Anambra State. Force Public Relations Officer, Moshood Jimoh, who disclosed this, said appreciable progress was being made over the ugly development but referred our reporter to Anambra State police command for more information on the arrests. However, when contacted, Anambra State police spokeswoman, Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, Nkiruka Nwode, said: 

“Yes, we have made some arrests over the killings but we cannot tell you the number of suspects arrested or disclose their identities for now.  You know this is a sensitive matter and we have to tread with caution. All I can tell you is that we are on top of the matter and we will not relent until the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to book.”

In the same vein, Vanguard reliably gathered that the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, may direct a special tactical squad from Force Headquarters, Abuja, to wade into investigations over the  killings. The move, according to sources, followed insinuations that the state police command may have reached hasty conclusion by asserting that the massacre was drug related. Vanguard learned that the police boss has been in constant touch with Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar, over the ugly development and has directed that perpetrators of the crime be fished out and dealt with accordingly. The Principal Staff Officer, Public Affairs, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, Jonah Achema, told Vanguard that the whole story was still at the level of speculation. He said: 

“However, let me assure you that we are following the story of the so-called drug deals outside the shores of Nigeria.  We are already linking up with our international collaborators and respective countries to establish the veracity of their drug activities. “For now, that is the level we are.  We are focusing our searchlight everywhere.  It is regrettable that this measure of violence is happening in this part of the world. ‘’We assure Nigerians that if it is drug related, we will not spare any effort to see to the end and we will deal decisively with anybody involved, whether high or low.  It is also a call to rekindle the drug efforts by all stakeholders in the country.”

It’s gang war, not terror attack, Obiano, Anambra State Governor, insists.

Also, yesterday (Monday), Governor Willie Obiano said the attack on St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Amakwa Ozubulu was neither a terror attack nor by members of some groups of agitators in the country. In a special broadcast in Awka, Obiano said it was a gang war that had spilled over to the state from another African country, assuring that it would be the last time such a thing would happen in the state. The address read:

“With a sorrowful heart, I stand before you today to brief you on the tragic killing of 12 people at St Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu on Sunday.

“First, I want to assure you all that what happened in Ozubulu was a tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners who are from the same 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, going forward.

“This explanation, I believe, has erased the fears that the incident may have been caused by either some terrorist organizations or some members of some groups of agitators in the country. “What happened in Ozubulu was neither a terror attack as we know it, nor a violent action by some agitators. We are dealing with a dangerous Gang War that has spilled over to Anambra State from another African country. But this is the last time it will happen under my watch! “I want to assure you that we are on top of this situation. We are completely in charge here. The people directly and remotely involved in this crime are known to the law enforcement agencies. But no suspect, no matter how highly placed, is above the law.  So, we have taken bold steps to bring them to book and restore the peace and tranquillity that Anambra State has enjoyed since the past three years.”

Local Government Chairman reacts            

Chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government, Mr. Ikenna Ofodeme, said he was compiling details of the casualties and wondered why someone should enter the church to kill innocent people. According to him, it is possible that God wanted to use the incident to expose some bad people in the community. He prayed that it will be the last time such an incident would happen in the local government. He said of the 12 people confirmed dead, 10 were females, including a baby, while two were males, adding that 10 of the bodies had been deposited at New Haven Mortuary, Ozubulu. He said: 

“Doctors who were not even on call, and some who were at church service came to join doctors on duty to save the lives of the victims, as I am talking with you now, the accurate number of people who died are 12, including 9 women, a baby girl, and two men, and they are already at New Heaven Mortuary, Joint Hospital Ozubulu, and the one at NAUTH Nnewi.”

Ofodeme  clarified on the alleged involvement of a prominent son of Ozubulu— Aloysius Ikegwuonu — who is alleged to be the target of the attack, saying he could not have been the target because he was not in the country when the incident happened.

“This young man, Aloysius Ikegwuonu, they are calling based on the police report has built more than three churches in Ekwusigo communities. He is currently building a new one in one of the communities. He left this country two days ago.

“If he was the target and he did a business transaction that resulted to this killing, those who are pursuing him would have killed him at the football pitch.  He played inter-village match a week ago before he left the country for his base. Some are quoting the governor of the state. The governor was briefed by the police and whatever he said, he should not be blamed because it was security agents that briefed him, and he must tell the people of the state what he was briefed on.

The shooting happened in the church.  Why didn’t the people go to his house or his father’s house?  What business has shooting people in the church got to do with business transaction between alleged drug pushers? This is purely a terrorist attack and has nothing to do with a drug pusher’s disagreement in South Africa with our son.”

The council chairman said the attack may be politically motivated to give the impression that there is no security in the state, just to rubbish Governor Obiano’s stride in addressing security in the state.

“If it were a misunderstanding between Mr Aloysius Ikegwuonwu and his kinsman in South Africa, what has that got to do with innocent worshipers in the church?” he asked.

Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader, chides police for quick conclusion

Reacting to the Ozubulu carnage, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, called for forensic examination of the bullets used by the gun men so as to trace the killers. Reacting to the barbaric incident, Kanu said he suspected some foul play and cover-up in the haste by the police to attribute the “heinous crime” to alleged feud between two indigenes of the community based outside the country. The IPOB leader faulted the police for their quick conclusion on the cause of the attack or the identity of the assailants without conducting thorough investigations, saying the police should not have quickly ruled out terrorists from the attack without proper investigations. According to him, there was nothing to suggest that the attack was not an act of terrorism. Kanu noted that Ndigbo do not have the culture of carrying out mass killing for whatever reason let alone carrying such attack in a place of worship, insisting that it could be from terrorist act and called for thorough investigation.

“We are asking for a forensic examination to be conducted to ascertain the type of bullet used in the attack. It makes a mockery of the entire security system that people can work into a town and massacre innocent civilians and walk away. Where are the security agencies?

“All options should remain open because our people are not known for gang killings. It is alien to us.

“Such atrocious crime has never ever been committed anywhere in Biafra land before. We are not known for mass executions. It was the same thing that happened at Uzo Uwani in Enugu State, the same scenario.

“I wonder why the narratives coming out is that it is two brothers who are feuding in far away South Africa. Is that possible? Does that make sense?”, Kanu queried. He lashed out at the security agencies for the level of insecurity in the country, saying that they only show strength when it comes to combating peaceful agitators.  

Obi of Ozubulu (traditional ruler of the community) condemns killing

Also, yesterday (Monday), the traditional ruler of Ozubulu, Obi Fidelix Nnandi Oruche, condemned the attack of his subjects who went to worship at St Philip's Catholic Church, Ozubulu, describing it as callous, wicked, inhuman and cowardly, saying the perpetrators must not go unpunished. The visibly worried and angry traditional ruler said government and the security agencies must fish out those behind it for punishment, adding that it was a sacrilege for anybody, no matter the provocation, to go into a church and attack innocent worshippers who went to pray to their God. On the alleged business disagreement involving their sons living in South Africa that may have led to the incident, he said there was no connection between the killings in the church and business transaction. Obi Oruche totally dismissed the claim, adding that those saying so want to destroy the name of Ozubulu.

“How can anybody be talking about business transaction disagreement when people were shot and killed while worshipping in the church? There is no relationship between shooting people in the church and business transaction by anybody. We are not aware of such disagreement.”

The shooting of Pa Ikegwuonu, Aloysius's father, I think, was what led some to quickly conclude that the killers were after his son (Aloysius Ikegwuonu) and his family. But if this was so, why didn't they kill the old man right there in the Church? Again, what about Ikegwuonu's wife (Aloysius' stepmother) who also came to Church together with her husband on that fateful Sunday and was, just like other worshippers, injured during the sporadic shooting but she survived? 

As for me, my suspicion is that Obiano, the Governor, is afraid the matter may tarnish the image of his administration and consequently cost him the loss of the forthcoming governorship election — hence his hasty vindication of the police report even though there is no evidence for that, still. This is dirty politics, and, with all due respect, my advice to the Governor is to shut up his mouth now! 

The military weapons of Nigeria are in the hands of Hausa-Fulani Muslims who are predominantly terrorists and anti-Igbo. The earlier today's Igbos are informed about this and wake up from their apathetic slumber, the better.

See our first report on this matter: Anambra Catholic Church killing: Jihadists or assassins?
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