The Oasis Reporters
August 07, 2017
When the chimes sounded and the pearlly gates of St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State opened on Sunday morning, 6th of August 2017 for the early dawn Mass, little did the clergy and laity have an inkling that prayers were about to be cut short and the cathedral drenched in a pool of the blood of worshippers.
Such a scene had been enacted at Madalla a suburb in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital a few years ago, and the culprit was the Boko Haram insurgency. It was their trademark.
This time around, Boko Haram was instantly fingered in the attack which immediately raised more questions than answers.
1. The gunman (gunmen) had been methodical, too precise and went to a particular direction in the church.
2. The gunman/gunmen spoke fluent Igbo, a language spoken by the indigenous Igbo tribe that inhabit the Ozubulu area. Though long time northern inhabitants of the area also speak the language.
So who did it?
The commissioner of police, Garba Umar dismissed all hypotheses and said the attack was carried out by a lone wolf gunman, who is an indigene of the area, according to police preliminary investigations.
Umar told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that the remains of the dead had been deposited at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi morgue while the injured had been taken to the hospital.
“From our findings, it is very clear that the person who carried out the attack must be an indigene of the area.
“We gathered that worshippers for 6 o’clock Sunday morning mass at St. Philip’s Catholic Church ,Ozubulu were in the service when a gunman dressed in black attire covering his face with a cap entered the church and moved straight to a particular direction and opened fire.
“The man after shooting at his targeted victims still went on a shooting spree, killing and wounding other worshippers,’’ he said.
The commissioner said information available to police showed that the attacker was speaking undiluted Igbo Language at the time he was firing at worshippers.
Umar said though no arrest had been made, the police already learnt that the attack followed a quarrel between two natives of Ozubulu residing overseas.
Describing the act as sacrilegious, the commissioner of police said it was wrong for the perpetrators of the act to extend their quarrel into the church.
He added: “such conduct shows the people behind the act do not fear God.’’
He said the police had launched a manhunt on those behind the act and gave an assurance that everybody behind the act would be brought to justice.
He said the police were on top of the situation.’’
The full statement by the police :
The state’s Commissioner of Police, CP Garba Umar has warned that the command will leave no stone unturned in fishing out the shooters at St Philip’s Catholic Church Amakwa , Ozubulu.
Unknown gunmen had today Sunday, 6th August 2017 entered the church, while the mass was going on and shot at worshipers.
Following a distress call, men of the police force rushed there and are presently rescuing the worshippers.
The hospital authority has confirmed 8 persons dead, and 18 injured. The command assures ndi Anambra that the police is on top of the situation and will fish out the perpetrators soon.
Intelligence report/Preliminary investigation proved that it is a fight between the two sons of the community living outside Nigeria that caused the incident, because one of them built the church which the incident happened. It is sacrilegious but for now, it is still premature to disclose the identities, we will brief the public after investigation is concluded.
Commissioner Umar commiserates with all those who lost their loved ones the act and pledges that the command would not rest on its oars until perpetrators are brought to book.
However, citizens are advised to be vigilant and report suspicious movements and actions in their locality.
Asp NWODE NKEIRUKA
PPRO ANAMBRA STATE POLICE COMMAND
Meanwhile, several sources in the area spoke to an Oasis Reporters correspondent by telephone.
Dr. Malik Shabbazz, a medical doctor who is an indigene from the region wrote that
“1: The shooters shot in a particular row and column in the church .
2: Their shooting pattern was precise and aimed to kill and not to wound or injure .
3: The shooting style is not akin to Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen .
4: The shooting style is that of trained assassins”.
He concluded that “It’s not Boko Haram or Herdsmen” that carried out the dastardly act.
Dr. Bile Nuhu, a medical practitioner from the north east of Nigeria which is the epicenter of the Boko Haram insurgency and has joined in treating tens of thousands of Boko Haram victims, concur:
“Boko haram and herdsmen kill to sell their identity….they don’t disguise, they claim their atrocities to announce their presence”.
Mr. Daniel Ogolo added that the “shooters spoke Igbo and came to kill a suspected drug baron and his father.
Looks like a drug deal gone sour”.
He went further to name the suspected drug baron’s appellation which may have a religious connotation, an identity that masks someone’s calling or vocation.
Ichie Boyz had tweeted a reply to @Isinmiri that the suspected drug baron had scheduled a Thanksgiving church service in the church that he personally built in the community. His father and siblings were all there but as is usual with his style, he skipped the event. The gunmen killed his family members and other worshippers. This is opposed to the police report that it was the handiwork of a lone gunman.
Another medical doctor, Hanna Uwakwe-Mangse queried how quickly the police got to such a definitive statement when the country lacks CCTV cameras.
Mercy Gold Okechukwu posted on Facebook quoting Ejike Ofoegbu’s
First Hand Information On What Happened At Ozubulu, Anambra State as narrated by Loveth Gift
“We all were in the church during the 6.00 am morning mass today and saw two cars that drove into the church; over looking the incident because it was Church premises and could be people that came for morning mass(service). But to the surprise of everyone, the car halted at the center of the gate, meaning you cannot close the gate, since it is open already.
“The driver came out of the car pretending he was fixing a problem; so everyone still ignored the drama happening outside the premises.
“Suddenly, some men came out from the car, fully armed, all in military fatigues. I was lucky because I was sitting at the back, just beside the door, but I was clearly seeing what was happening. The sky was cloudy and everywhere seemed dark; no one saw what they were carrying, whether it was gun, but surely they were fully equipped.
“They immediately rushed to the front door. I was too lucky to jump the fence, but before I had jumped, I heard gun shots everywhere in the building. They obstructed the front gate, because for women that is their only route to escape. That was why women were killed more than men. Children were killed as well, many were seriously injured.
“After I had escaped, I started making calls to link my church members who were in the church, but they were not picking up; not knowing they were dead already.
The gun men were not Igbos, because their language was not Igbo, the government should stop lying, I heard they said that, they gunmen were flashing torch light on us, but that’s a lie, because the whole church was so well lit that even from outside you will see who is inside.
“I reiterate, I was at the back door, I saw all that happened, they wore army fatigues , face covered, standing at the front door, holding their trigger, and shooting at anything that moves.
“When the police came, I was waiting for them to ask questions on what happened, so that I will explain, but they were busy taking pictures of the dead ones, without knowing the fact
“Not too long after they had gone, I went back to the church. I was shocked with what I saw; my mother was lying dead! Many people were unconscious but later succumbed to death.
“After about one hour of the killings, the Police arrived the church.
Two hours later, the Governor, Willie Obiano arrived too.
Everyone was shocked, wandering how the perpetrators stormed in army fatigues. Questions began to arise: “Who gave them the army uniform?
Who gave them the Army car?”
A woman who survived the mayhem said, “All I could remember is that I was sitting at the front when some people in Army uniform invaded the Church and started shooting at everyone. They just held the trigger and fired at everyone they sighted. I managed to hide under the seat but was shot in the leg.
“A boy was shot in the head, his brain bursted, and blood spilled everywhere – even at my face.”,concludes Ejike Ofoegbu’s report.
“The people inside the church that witnessed the killing said their killers were not Igbos and wore Army Uniform.
In less than 2 hours the police conducted and concluded their investigation in a country that had no CCTV and first class technology.
So sad it happened today of all days. Even though no day is a good day for such a massacre. This is evil and Buhari and his men must tell us what really happened”, wrote Dr. Hanna Uwakwe Mangse.
A social media commentator, Charles Ogbu wonders if the Police is not being mischievous on the Ozubulu killings, “of not less than 35 people and wounding more”.
He said he was at St. Philip’s Catholic church, the crime scene.
“What is news is that the Nigerian police has, for the very first time in human history, successfully concluded an investigation into a very heinous crime and came out with a report less than 2 hours after the incident.
According to the official statement from the police, the incident was not unconnected with a feud between two sons of the community, one of whom was believed to have built the church”.
But actually, the police called it a “preliminary report”.
“Is this not the same Nigerian police which told us that it was “hoodlums” who killed dozens of people in Nimbo, Uzo-uwani, Enugu state when everyone knew that it was done by fulani herdsmen?”, Charles Ogbu continued.
“By evening or sometime tomorrow, expect a couple of IPOB guys who will be paraded by the same police as the killers. Their only “crime” might just be using an hankerchief with the Biafran colour”, he concluded.
In her reaction , the media director to the Osita Chidoka campaign organization, Ms Viola Ifeyinwa Okolie who was at the scene, called it “a very sad incident”.
While praying for the souls of the dead, she demanded that the law enforcement agencies should quickly fish out the perpetrators of the crime and arraign them to face justice in a court of law “.