The Archbishop of Lokoja has called for swift police action following the murder of two diocesan missionaries.
The Church of Nigeria’s Archbishop of Lokoja has called for swift police action following the murder of two diocesan missionaries. On 7 April 2015 at approximately 4:00 pm, Mrs. Lolo Alhassan and Mr. Olugbenga Kekere were stopped outside the village of Gboloko and shot to death. In a statement given to Anglican Ink, the Most Rev. Emmanuel Egbunu said the two were in the village to prepare the church for his annual visitation. On 14 April 2015 he wrote:
Today completes one full week since our diocese was rattled by the shocking news of unwarranted attack by gunmen while our members were on their way from a missionary assignment in Bassa Local Government Area of Kogi State, leaving several wounded and traumatized, and two dead. One of the wounded is still in critical condition. We commiserate with the affected families.
Among the dead are Architect Mrs L.N. Alassan, General Manager in Kogi Properties and Investments Ltd (also a Layreader in our diocese); and Mr Olugbenga Kekere, a young man of rare musical ability. They have left behind a grief-stricken Mr Joe Alassan, mni, children, family members, friends and colleagues; and in the case of Mr Olugbenga Kekere, a young wife (Helen) with their nearly 3-year old little daughter (ErinOluwa), elderly parents (Chief Jacob and Chief Mrs Racheal Kekere, siblings and friends. The two deceased are members of Crowther Memorial Church, Lokoja. There is no doubt about the magnitude and impact of this loss on our diocese, on the Christian Community, the state, and far beyond. These are people who would have continued to be the pride of Kogi state, now cut down in cold-blooded murder.
This gruesome act was carried out in broad daylight (about 4:00pm) against harmless, unarmed, and highly valued citizens of our state, who were going about their legitimate commitments in the service of God and humanity. This coming only a couple of months after the abduction of an 80-year old American missionary, Phyllis Sortor, also at gunpoint and in broad daylight also in our state, is again raising serious and widespread concerns about the security threats in our state.
The archbishop thanked the police for the work they had done thus far but noted:
It is absolutely important for the state government and the police to do the following:
Track down the attackers who used sophisticated arms in such a rural part of the state, and with no nearby assistance from police while it lasted even when distress calls were aired on Grace FM radio.
Identify the nature of attack – whether terrorist, political, or religious, especially since no robbery was carried out in that particular attack
Put in place adequate security presence in the area to guarantee safety of movement for travellers and villagers who are mostly farmers and market women now gripped with fear of these armed men hiding in the bush around them, and unchallenged.