Government raises team to boost treatment of Anambra attack victims

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole

• Police arrest suspects
• Obiano rules out terrorism, urges calm
• Buhari, Osinbajo, Fayose, Okowa, Dambazau condemn killing

Following the Sunday attack on worshippers by a gunman in Anambra State, the Federal Government has raised a team that can be urgently deployed to beef up services at the Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi if the need arises.

The attack which occurred at the St. Philips Catholic Church located in Umuezekwe, Ofufe-Amakwa, Ozubulu community in Ekwusigo Local Government left many people dead and a lot more injured.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, directed the chief medical director of the hospital to offer all the necessary services to the casualties with the assurance of immediate support of the Federal Government as soon as such is required.

Adewole who commended the team at the hospital for being proactive in their response to the emergency spoke as five out of the 25 victims receiving treatment at the hospital in Nnewi were reported to have died while the remaining 20 were fast responding to treatment.

When The Guardian visited the hospital yesterday afternoon, almost all the victims had been moved from the Accident Unit to various wards where medical personnel were further working tirelessly to save their lives. Only four of the victims were still at the Accident Unit and their conditions did not appear to be critical. Some of them with bone injuries had been taken to the Orthorpaedic Hospital Unit.

Efforts to speak to the doctors failed as they were busy attending to the victims, but the Chief Nursing Officer, Mrs. Ngozi Obiora told The Guardian that the patients were responding to treatment, adding, however, that no patient had so far been discharged.

Mrs. Obiora said that 25 victims were brought to the hospital on Sunday after the incident. According to her, four of the victims died before she left the hospital on Sunday night, while another one died later, bringing the number of deaths to five.

Meanwhile, Governor Willie Obiano has charged people in the state not to be discouraged from going to church to serve their God, saying what happened in Amakwa, Ozubulu was an isolated case.

In a broadcast in Awka yesterday, Obiano assured that government was effectively responding to the situation.“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 here.

“This explanation, I believe, has erased the fears that the incident may have been caused by either some terrorist organisations 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 on my watch!

“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 tranquility that Anambra State has enjoyed since the past three years.

“We are completely in charge here.“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari who called me last night from London to commiserate with Ndi Anambra on this tragic incident. I must also thank the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo who also called last night to condole with us,” the governor said.

Obiano also commended all who called or made personal visits to commiserate with the state and people of Anambra over the incident.The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Nkiru Nwude, said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing, but did not give details on the number.

In an interview yesterday, Nwude said: “It is a sensitive matter, it is barbaric. When the investigation is concluded, we will let the public know”.The Parish Priest of the St Philips Catholic Church, Jude Onwuaso, could not be reached for comments as a man who claimed to be a parishioner said he was not around when The Guardian visited yesterday.

The Chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government, Ikenna Ofodeme said three members of a family had been confirmed to be among those killed. He said it was not true that the killing was motivated by a feud between two drug lords, saying that the said drug baron, Aloysius Ikegwuonu, who was targeted by the gunman had left the community the previous day.

More condolence messages poured in yesterday for the state government and families of the victims.Among those who condemned the attack were Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State; his Delta counterpart, Ifeanyi Okowa; Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige; Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN); and Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, at a press briefing in Akure, said: “We call on the Presidency, the Inspector general of Police and Anambra State governor to apprehend, investigate and prosecute the perpetrators and everyone found involved in order to avert uninformed reprisal attacks.”

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