By STELLA UKWUOMA
Residents of Ozubulu, a community in Umuezekwe, Ofufe-Amakwa in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State woke up to a black Sunday on August 6.
The cloud, which gathered around Christian faithful of St. Philips Catholic Church located in the community who had assembled for an early morning mass spread and engulfed the entire state and nation.
In a press release by the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) Nigeria signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, the group has said the killings marked the return of dirty politics and bloodshed in Anambra State.
“The killing and maiming early this morning of dozens of unarmed and defenseless parishioners of St Philips Catholic Church located in Umuezekwe, Ofufe-Amakwa, Ozubulu Community in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State are nothing short of the return of dirty politics and bloodshed in Anambra State”.
“The well-armed gunmen numbering about five had stormed the Church during its early Sunday Morning Service, opened fire, killing scores of parishioners; numbering 20 or more. Scores of others were also shot and critically injured. Though the exact cause of and identities of the killing and those that carried it out are yet to be investigatively and formally established, but security experts and social crime watchers have linked it to frustrations arising from a failed assassination attempt/politically motivated killing”.
The group has also rejected any possible linking of the massacre to abduction/failed abduction, Church-Communal rift over land dispute, possible desecration/destruction by the former of a communal deity/shrine armed robbery or carjacking, as none of these reasons holds water.
Intersociety while totaling condemning the killings in strong terms therefore insists that: “Any violent shooting and killing of victims without a target is the handiwork of deadly or dirty politicians or “political armed robbery””.
Calling on the authorities concerned to carry out exhaustive and thorough investigations, the group urged the state Police Command to jettison “concocted or falsified version of the Ozubulu killings” adding that Anambrarians will not be surprised if such happens.
Speaking further, the group said it won’t be surprised if the Police dismiss the barbaric killings as “the handiwork of IPOB which has sworn that Anambra Governorship Poll will not take place come 18th November 2017”.
“The Anambra State Police Command must leave no stone unturned and ensure that the culprits wherever they are or reside, are fished out by way of arrest or extradition and made to face the law in its fullness”.
Presenting an eye witness account, Intersociety quoted a Don Ogbuagu as saying: “the gunmen actually went to assassinate a billionaire son of one of the clan chiefs of Ozubulu-Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu (a.k.a. Bishop Ebubechukwu-Uzo of Ozubulu), but unfortunately for them, they met his absence; forcing them to storm a church located near his house (St Philips) in search of him during which he was nowhere to be found; which angered them and forced them to open fire on parishioners and shot them indiscriminately”.
“The father of the billionaire was also shot and injured in his hand. The dead and the injured were taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital at Nnewi” the statement quoted Don Ogbuagu as saying.
Meanwhile, the Anambra Governor who visited the Church also said the killing resulted from a feud between two brothers of the same parents in the Community.
In a related development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has also joined in the condemnation of the heartless killing of worshipers on Sunday.
MURIC in a press release, Monday, signed by its president, Professor Ishaq Akintola said: “The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) denounces this wanton massacre of innocent people. It is heartless, ungodly and barbaric”.
“In particular, we condemn the attack on the Catholic church because places of worship do not belong to the builders. They belong to God”.
“Any attack on a place of worship is therefore an affront against God. No homo sapien has the right to extend hostilities to the house of God”.
The statement which rejected the speculation that the attack is an aftermath of a drug war queried: “What of the lives of several worshippers that were wasted? What was their own offence?”
While urging Nigerian security agencies to speedily unveil those behind the killings, the group advised Nigerians to be security conscious always and supply useful information to security agencies noting that: “The invaders allegedly came with the intention of squaring up with Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu, a notable businessman from Amakwa who built and donated the church to Nnewi Diocese. They killed their target’s father, Pa Ikegwuonu, and shot his mother in the arm”.