Latest information has it that no fewer than 12 persons have been confirmed dead in early morning mass shooting of worshippers in a Catholic Church in Ozobulu, Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state. When the dastardly act occurred, eleven persons lay dead in the pool of their own blood. A lone gunman or gunmen as some accounts have it strolled into the sanctity of the church to unleash mayhem and snuff life out of many innocent parishioners.
The killings shook the nation and have received condemnation from across the country. the shock is mostly because this was carried out inside the church during service. Commentators have wondered how chilling and what motivation could have caused this defilement of the sanctity of the church. The point is, and people must accept that reality, Nigerians should brace up for more cultural shocks. Apart from the broken societal values, modernisation and rapid population growth have combined to deal an unkind blow to the things that hold us together.
In Anambra state for example, the Catholic Church basically can do no wrong. The question in most peoples’ lips is how this kind of action could be taken in the same Catholic Church that is so revered. But crime and the violent one for that matter, has been on the increase in our country. From terrorism to insurgency to kidnapping and the perennial armed robbery; we are now used to violent crimes. So instead of spending too long a time lamenting, this is the time to focus on real solutions to the hydra-headed problem that has enveloped our land.
Reports from the presidency suggest that the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has been receiving regular updates on the status of investigations regarding the atrocious and mindless acts of violence at the St. Philip Catholic Church Ozubulu in Anambra State. Speaking through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Acting President has been in touch with the Anambra State governor, Willy Obiano, police authorities and other security agencies, and assures that the perpetrators of the heinous crimes would be brought to justice.
Thankfully there are leads that show the police may have known the background to what may have motivated the killings. There seems to be the understanding that drug lords and their attempt to dominate or enhance their territory may be a causative factor to the killings we witnessed. Already, a prominent indigene of the community, who is said to be a philanthropist, is stacked in a war of dominance with his colleague in the trade, who is also an indigene of Ozobulu. Luckily, this is just as the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Garba Umar on Monday, said that the command had arrested some suspects in connection with the killings.
Although human lives were lost and they are irreplaceable, we are hopeful since Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has stated in a broadcast over last Sunday’s attack on parishioners at the St. Philip’s Catholic Church was neither a terror attack, nor by members of any self-determination agitators in the country. The broadcast read: “With a sorrowful heart, I stand before you today to brief you on the tragic killing of 12 people at St Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu on Sunday.
“First, I want to assure you all that what happened in Ozubulu was a tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners who are from the same town. 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, going forward. 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 under my watch”, the broadcast added.
The police must move quickly to arrest the situation. But our security agents and community leaders must define what it is that is of high moral rectitude. We cannot continue accepting peoples’ philanthropic gestures, irrespective of source of wealth. We must be bold enough to reject gifts, especially a moral highground like religious bodies. More importantly, although, there are drug dealers in Nigeria, however, it appears we are going further to introduce gang wars. We must resist it now.