Twelve dead after gang war spills over into church


Twelve dead after gang war spills over into church


George Conger

Gunmen invaded a Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria’s south-central Anambra State on 6 Aug 2017, shooting to death 12 and wounding a score of others. Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State declared Monday a day of mourning for those killed in the massacre at St Phillips Church in Amakwa, Ozubulu.

“Brothers and sisters,” the governor said, “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.”

Gov. Obiano went on to say the suspects were known to police and would be hunted down. He added, “Sincerely, there is no cause for fear or alarm here. Anambra state is safe. Our churches and places of worship are safe,” and “what happened in Amakwa, Ozubulu is an isolated case. It will not happen again.”

However, the Anglican Bishop of Calabar, the Rt. Rev. Tunde Adeleye told the Daily Post he disagreed with the governor. “We are not safe; they know that we are not safe, especially for those of us who don’t enjoy the kind of protection they are enjoying; we are not safe and nowhere is safe.”

It was abhorrent that people would be murdered in church during Sunday worship. “[I]it is wicked, it is demonic that people are worshipping God quietly in the Church and people can just go there and start shooting them at random, it is extremely barbaric”, he said.

“The doors of the Church have never been locked against anybody,” and was a sanctuary. “For somebody to abuse that privilege and just go there and start killing people, it shows that nowhere is safe, it shows that the security in this country, to be honest and to be sincere is zero and completely zero”, Bishop Adeleye said.

A telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent to the Bishop of Nnewi on Monday said: “Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and injury following the violent attack in Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, His Holiness Pope Francis extends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese of Nnewi, in particular the families of the deceased and all those affected by this tragedy."