By Rose Moses
With the attack, last Sunday, on worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, there is no doubting the fact that living in Nigeria is becoming a huge risk as life gets ‘nasty, brutish and short.’
Or how else does one describe a situation where worshippers that left their homes, probably in good health for an early morning mass, ended up brutally murdered in a church for reasons they know nothing about?
The Ozubulu killing is further confirmation of the level our society has degenerated, with alter disregard for sanctity of life. It questions our humanity. It also questions ability and preparedness of security agencies to confront the dangerous trend now staring us in the face.
Reports have it that the gunmen were after a billionaire son of the community, Chief Alloysius Ikegwuonu, a.k.a Bishop Ebubechukwuzo 1 of Ozubulu, said to have also built the church.
On meeting his absence, they were said to have started shooting sporadically at the congregation, killing 12, including the so-called Bishop’s father, and injuring many.
Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar, few hours after the tragic incident, announced to a shocked nation that the shooting was outcome of a drug war between the camp of Ikegwuonu and another, all of who are based in South Africa but from Anambra State.
Governor Willie Obiano promptly visited the scene of the incident and gave further insights, disclosing that the war has been on for some time. He promised that his government will do everything possible to stop the groups from further importing their battle to Anambra. He would follow up on Monday with a state-wide broadcast and declared a day of mourning.
However, and for a police force that usually handles crime cases with much secrecy, not a few people in Ozubulu and indeed, elsewhere, will swallow the ‘drug war’ narrative hook, line and sinker.
Coming from the same police force yet to prove beyond reasonable doubt on those behind the Agatu and Nimbo massacres, and even those behind the killings in Southern Kaduna, announcing, just in about two hours after the incident that it was continuation of a drug war in South Africa, sounded somewhat bogus.
Worse still is that at the time the police commissioner was making this statement, there was no arrest made yet, serious investigation into the matter had not even began and no evidence as to number of gunmen that carried out the attack. Neither had anyone come forward to say he/she saw the gunmen approach the church, either masked or unmasked. The scene of the incidence was also not cordoned off for proper investigation. And by now as I write, forensic analysis ought to have revealed the type of weapons used. Nothing of such yet.
Except police commissioner’s quick assertion of drug war, a storyline Gov Obiano promptly adopted, or actually revealed whichever.
On the surface, though, that should be cheery news, after all, the duo, which obviously gets intelligence reports ordinary citizens do not have access to, should know better.
But in our clime, and going by precedents, these assertions are taken with a pinch of salt.
The hurried statement by the police boss, who has since been to Abuja, perhaps to be briefed on how to handle the incident, remains on the realm of speculation, the arrest which he later said to have made, notwithstanding.
Point is that at this time when crime has assumed a more dangerous dimension with criminals getting smarter via technology and other means, nothing really should be taken for granted. Any situation can be used as a decoy by these agents of darkness, which goes to affirm that you don’t look at an incident from one perspective.
And if by their different assertions, the governor and police commissioner had information on the so-called drug dealers before the church attack, what then were measures taken to avert such attack? Are the drug dealers banned from visiting their country home? If not, and with prior knowledge of their gun battles abroad, is it then rocket science to imagine they could carry on such battles from where they stopped in South Africa whenever they visit home? Any plans to counter that?
Lots of questions, really! Nonetheless, now that the criminals have beaten the security operatives in an act they (authorities) claimed to have prior knowledge of, it is hoped the matter does not go the way of that of notorious kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, which after the initial gra gra by the police, the public is now left in the dark as to what has become of it.
The public needs to be constantly updated on how concerned authorities are ensuring that perpetrators are nabbed and brought to justice.