Monday, August 7, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - UN-STAR INFO: Diaspora Rivalry - Analysis of Murder in God's House at Ozubulu

My People:

This is Cain killing Abel all over again......

The kind of hate speech that oftentimes spews on our many forums in the Diaspora from the safety of our foreign homes should be curtailed - and here is one too many reasons why.......

And there you have it.

Bolaji Aluko.


Blood splashed in church

Ozubulu, relative to other towns in its environs

Analysis: Murder in God's house

By Stanley Ikechukwu - August 7, 2017

Ginika Enemonwu was an Mbaise native who grew up in Ozubulu, Ekusigo LGA of Anambra state. He was killed in far away
Johannesburg, South Africa, in October 2013. His murder set in motion a chain of events that led to a massacre of church
goes in Ozubulu almost four years later. Gunmen yesterday invaded St. Philip's Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local
Government Area of Anambra State and opened fire on worshippers, killing at least eight people. Worshippers who escaped
said the gunmen, who all communicated in Igbo, fled the scene after emptying a hail of bullets into early morning

The Parish Priest of St. Philip's Catholic Church, Jude Onwuaso, said that the attack took place at about 6.30 a.m. during the
early morning Mass. According to Fr. Onwuasot, an unidentified man came into the church, shot at a man, Akunwafor
Ikegwuonwu, before shooting sporadically at other worshippers

A member of the church choir, who wished to be unnamed who witnessed the incident, said that the church was dark as
there was no light. She said that the generating set suddenly developed a fault; so, the mass proceeded with the
congregation using candles.

According to her, the gunman, after the shooting, jumped into a waiting car with a driver.

Following the massacre, the bodies of the dead, and those who were injured were taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, and all medical personnel who were attending Sunday morning mass at the hospital chapel were
pressed into service at the hospital's casualty unit for surgery.

Police reaction

Speaking in Awka, the Anambra state Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, confirmed that a lone gunman killed eight
worshippers and injured 18 others in the early morning attack. According to Umar, preliminary investigations showed that the
attack was carried out by a native of the area.

"From our findings, it is very clear that the person who carried the attack must be an indigene of the area.

"We gathered that worshippers for 6 o'clock Sunday mass at St. Philip Ozobulu 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," Umar

Although no arrest had been made as of the time of filing this report, the police have already learned that the attack followed
a quarrel between two natives of Ozubulu residing overseas, and Mr. Umar assured that the police were on top of the

A drug dealing bishop

According to two residents of Ozubulu who insisted on anonymity before speaking with Daily Times, the roots of yesterday's
massacre were planted four years ago in South Africa, when an indigene of Ozubulu nicknamed "Bishop", based in South
Africa for many years, is alleged to have killed an indigene of Mbaise in a drug trade dispute.

Aloysius Nnamdi Ikegwuonu, aged 35, better known by his nickname, "Bishop", has built a reputation as one of the biggest

philanthropists from the town. He has built and donated churches (including St. Philips, where people were massacred),
constructed schools, hospitals and given scholarships. In May, Anambra Governor Willie Obiano commissioned a 12km
road and a bridge built by Chief Ikegwuonu (he is a titled chief) linking Ozubulu with the neighbouring Ukpor in Nnewi South

Enemonwu, , whose death caused the bad blood, was an Mbaise native who had lived in Ozubulu. Bishop took him to South
Africa for a "joint venture" and when the proceeds of their arrangement became significant, Bishop claimed a huge chunk of
the profits, a situation which Enemonwu found unacceptable.

Following that disagreement, Enemonwu reported the matter to the Mbaise Union in South Africa, who took the issue up,
and began fighting for their brother. He allegedly told the Mbaise Union of his fear that Bishop may assassinate him, and in
the event of such an event, they should know who to hold responsible.

Not long afterwards, he was killed, and the effort to retaliate began. It was reported that many of Bishop's boys and
associates have been killed since then and also someone else close to Bishop was murdered in a bar in Johannesburg last
week before the hit was carried out in Ozubulu.

Now, the event that happened in South Africa seems to have touched home. Some people from Mbaise, in neighbouring Imo
State, insisted that Bishop must pay a price for the killing of their brother in South Africa.Many prominent people and the
traditional rulers of both communities intervened to settle the rift and sue for peace, to no avail.

Along the line, it was believed that the case has been settled. Then Bishop was sighted in Ozubulu a few days ago, and
information is believed to have filtered to Mbaise, which possibly encouraged the gunmen to trail him. According to sources,
Bishop left town and is back in South Africa. When the gunmen arrived at the church and did not find him, they shot several
people, including Bishop's father, Akunwafor Ikegwuonwu, and some other worshippers. A witness who spoke to Daily
Times said that the gunmen promised to return if Bishop did not find a way to pay back what he owed, along with some
restitution for their deceased brother.

While most Nigerians in South Africa are law abiding, there is a widespread perception that many others are involved in the
drug and illicit sex trade, a situation which has sparked protests among locals who accuse them of taking their jobs and
hurting their youth, and in some cases, violence against Nigerians.

South Africa experienced its worst outbreak of violence against foreigners in 2008, when more than 60 people died. In 2015,
similar xenophobic unrest in the cities of Johannesburg and Durban claimed seven lives as African immigrants were hunted
down and attacked by gangs. And in February, police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds at

an anti­immigrant march in the capital, Pretoria after angry mobs attacked Nigerians and looted shops in townships around
Pretoria and parts of Johannesburg.

Reactions pour in

Jude Emecheta, who hails from Ozubulu, told the News Agency of Nigeria that "a dark cloud has befallen my peaceful town."

Mr. Emecheta, who is the Managing Director of Anambra Signage and Advertisement Agency, ANSAA, said that the losses
from the attack were too much for the people to bear. He wondered why brothers could visit such an attack on their people
and urged those involved to "sheathe their swords."

Also speaking with NAN, Oseloka Obaze, a former Secretary to Anambra Government, said such a callous attack
dehumanised the society.

"My heart goes to the family and parishioners of St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu, where unidentified gunmen reportedly
killed several church members and wounded several others early today," Obaze said.

On his part, Osita Chidoka, a former Minister of Aviation, said he was saddened by the incident.

Mr. Chidoka decried the desecration of the temple of God, adding that nobody attacked anyone in the church even during
war times.

"This is tragic; the church is a place of refuge to anyone who runs into it, and this wicked, barbaric and mindless bloodletting,
shows that something has gone wrong on our psyche.

"My heart goes to the bereaved at this moment of pain. I pray that God grants the soul of the departed eternal rest as I urge
the security agents to fish out the perpetrators and make them face the law," he said.

In his reaction, Victor Oye, the National Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, said that no amount of
provocation could justify the killing of innocent people who had gone to worship in a Church.

Describing the attack as wicked, Mr. Oye urged the police to get those responsible for the massacre.

"As a political leader, I totally condemn the Ozubulu Church shooting as dastardly, unjustifiable and callous

"Nobody has the right to kill innocent citizens. The Police and other relevant security agencies should ensure that the
perpetrators of this crime are caught and made to face justice," he said.

In a statement received by Daily Times, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, described the attack
as abominable, barbaric, inhuman, and the height of wickedness. Dogara said his heart was broken by the sad news of the
massacre of innocent worshippers in cold blood by people he described as "sons of perdition whose souls will rot in hell."
"Have we lost our humanity? Where is the place of sanctity of life and sacredness of worship places in our society? What
offence did the worshippers commit to warrant their massacre in cold blood by wicked souls and heartless men?" Dogara
asked, then reiterated his call for the overhaul of Nigeria's policing architecture that will lead to reform of the Police Force,
equip them with modern and sophisticated gadgets so as to discharge their duties of protecting lives and property effectively,
and ensure social order in the society.

Stanley Ikechukwu, an analyst at SBM Intelligence researched and wrote this story with reports from the News Agency of



Gunman kills 11 in church over drug barons' rivalry

Buhari, Saraki, Dogara, others condemn attack

It was all like an action-packed movie.

A gunman dressed in black, storming a church and opening fire on worshippers.

There was commotion. By the time the gunman left, no fewer than 11 worshippers lay dead.

That was the scene yesterday at St. Philip's Catholic Church, Amakwa-Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State. The gunman came during the early morning mass

Many were injured during the incident, which Governor Willie Obiano described as "sacrilegious".

An eyewitness, who narrated how the attack occurred, said the priest, Rev. Fr. Jude Onwuaso, was unhurt. The witness, who said he was part of those who evacuated the victims, said the gunman went into the church, identified Chief Akunwafor Ikegwuonwu, a parishioner, and shot him dead. He then went on the rampage, shooting indiscriminately at worshippers.

Commissioner of Police Garba Baba Umar said 11 persons were killed and 18 injured. He said some people in the community had been invited for interrogation.

It was leant that the gunman may have struck on the instruction of one of two suspected drug barons from the community who live in South Africa. One of them, who was the gunman's target, is believed to have built the Catholic Church about two years ago.

There are two accounts of the incident. One is that a gunman committed the crime. The other claimed there were six gunmen.

A source from the community, who pleaded for anonymity, told The Nation that the gunmen visited the home of one of the drug barons, perhaps to assassinate him, but discovered that he had travelled.

This, according to the source, might have made them to visit the Catholic Church near his house.

The father of the suspected drug baron was killed along with others in the church

The police commissioner said preliminary investigation revealed that the attack was carried out by people from the area and not by Boko Haram as being speculated in some quarters.

He said: "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 mass at St. Philip Ozobulu were in the service when gunmen dressed in black attire, covering their  faces with fez caps, entered the church and moved straight to a particular direction and opened fire.

"The men, after shooting at their targeted victim, still went on a shooting spree, killing and wounding other worshippers.''

It was learnt that the attackers were speaking Igbo when firing at the worshippers.

Umar said though no arrest had been made, the police were working on the information that the attack followed a quarrel between two Ozubulu men living abroad.

The commissioner of police said it was wrong for the perpetrators of the act to take their quarrel into the church, saying "such conduct shows the people behind the act do not fear God''.

The police have launched a manhunt for suspects.

Dismisssing the rumour that the attack was carried out by Boko Haram elements, Umar urged residents to go about their businesses without fear.

Obiano visited the church and the Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital, NAUTH, Nnewi where the injured were being treated.

He also confirmed that the shooting followed a clash of two brothers based abroad. He described it as a "communal feud".

Obiano promised to offset the medical bills of the injured and assist in the funeral for those killed.

Some of the critically injured died on the way to the hospital.

Obiano added that intelligence report linked the shooting to an existing feud between some members of Umuezekwe Ofufe Amakwa community of Ozubulu living abroad.

"It is an isolated case and I urge worshippers in the Church and residents of the area to go about their normal activities."

He also said 50 doctors had been mobilised to the hospital to assist in providing the best medical care to the injured persons.

The governor also visited Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Cathedral, Nnewi, where he addressed a congregation of worshippers.

He intimated the worshippers on the true picture of the incident, saying there was nothing to worry about.

The Priest of St. Philip's Catholic Church, Rev. Fr. Jude Onwuaso, said the attack took place at about 6.30 a.m.

According to him, an unidentified man came into the church, shot at a man,  Ikegwuonwu, before shooting sporadically at other worshippers.

An eyewitness, who simply identified herself as a choir member, said the church was dark as there was no power supply at the time.

She said the generating set suddenly stopped working; so, the mass proceeded with the congregation using candles.

According to her, the gunman, after the shooting, immediately jumped into a waiting car with a driver.

One of the survivors, Mr. Stephen Ohamadike told The Nation at the church premises that the gunmen entered the church around 6.45am as they were about to begin " the prayer of the faithful".

His words: "Those of us who were to say the prayers of the faithful had just assembled at the altar and I had number 2 which meant that I was to say the prayer for Nigeria.

"Suddenly, I saw someone who was putting on a cap, shooting indiscriminately inside the church.

"There was pandemonium and in the midst of the confusion, I just lay down on the floor.

"The officiating priest and the Mass servers quickly left the altar and the Mass came to an abrupt end.

"I counted 11 bodies and many were injured. I used the vehicle belonging to Pa Ikwgwuonu to take him and his wife and others to Evans Hospital where the doctors advised us to go to the teaching hospital.  I used the car to convey many other people to the hospital before I came back to Amakwa."


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