Community leaders disagree over cause of Ozubulu Church attack

St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu.

• Catholic bishops blame security agencies for arms proliferation

Leaders of Ozubulu Community in Ekwusigo council of Anambra yesterday differed over the cause of attacks on St Philips Catholic Church Amakwa Ozubulu where scores were killed on Sunday morning.

While a section of the community attributed the killings to communal crises in the town, others said two rival groups who were strategising to produce the leadership of Ozubulu Development Union (ODU), carried the leadership tussle to the Church.

The Guardian learnt that the leaders of the rival groups, who are based in South Africa, had been doing everything possible to influence members of the community in an effort to produce the President General of the union.

It was gathered that the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Fidelis Oruche, had in the past intervened by inviting the groups to Ozubulu but no meaningful resolution had been reached.

Oruche, however, said contrary to insinuations in certain quarters, the crisis that led to the killings had nothing to do with drug deals. In a report released yesterday, the ODU Caretaker Committee condemned the attack, saying it was a taboo, shocking and devastating to the entire community and beyond.

The statement titled: “Senseless and Brutal Murder of Worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa–Ozoubulu, signed by President General of Amakwa, ODU, Iykebest Malizu, the community said they were mourning their loved ones who were killed in the early morning Mass.

Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Chukwuka Ernest, regretted the incident and wondered why such a dastardly act should happen in the house of God.

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nkiru Nwude, however, told The Guardian that some arrests have been made and that the suspects have offered useful information to their investigations.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Province have blamed the Ozubulu killings on security agencies’ failure to check arms proliferation in the country. The Bishops spoke in a communiqué signed by the Province President and Secretary, Gabriel Abegunrin and John Oyejola after the Catholic Bishops Conference meeting at Saint Kizito Pastoral Centre in Oke Gada, Ede, Osun State yesterday.

They condemned the gruesome murder of members and commiserated with the people of Anambra over the deaths. Their words: “We sympathise with the Nnewi Diocese, Reverend Hillary Okeke, members of the Diocese, the government and people of Anambra and the families directly affected by the murder on Sunday, August 6, 2017.

“We uphold the sanctity of every human life given by God and not to be taken by anyone and therefore can never denounce enough the evil of such a horrendous and callous killing of innocent worshippers in the Church during Mass.

“The bottom line is that the security situation in Nigeria remains at best, tenuous. We strongly condemn whatever may be the cause of the killings.

Those who are charged with securing human life and property in the nation must do more to protect the citizens. One must ask how the perpetrators of the Ozubulu mayhem came about such deadly weapons.”



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