Suspect denies allegation, says it was a terrorist attack

The last may not have been heard of last Sunday’s massacre of worshippers at St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State as controversy has continued to surround the motive of the killings.
Latest reports quoted the Commissioner of Police in the state, Alhaji Garba Umar, as saying that arrests have been made but did not specify the number of arrests.
While the police blamed it on a war between drug barons in the community, analysts believe that it was a terror attack by non-Christians and non-Igbo speaking persons.
And in another development, one of the suspected drug barons who hails from the community has threatened to take legal action “against the purveyors of the defamatory false story” against him.
The police, within 24 hours, had linked the killings to the suspect, saying that the suspect was at war with a business partner in South Africa.
But the suspect, on Thursday, issued a statement denying the allegations and blaming it on terrorism.
Part of his statement entitled “Defamation and false allegation” that circulated in the social media read:
“My attention has been drawn to a social media campaign where it is alleged that I am connected to the Ozubulu church killing over a drug problem.
“For the avoidance of any doubt I wish to inform the general public that I know nothing about the church killings and I have never been involved in drugs.
“I have never been arrested or convicted anywhere in the world. My businesses are legitimate buinesses, duly registered. Apart from warehousing and wholesale of goods I am also a contractor involved in the construction of roads and infrastructure in Nigeria.
“It’s shameful that Nigerians and the media don’t verify any story before running with them.
“The handwork of those who are jealous of my success and who are determined to tarnish my image is evident.
The Church killing is an unprecedented evil that deserves full investigation to unmask the perpetrators.
Also, another version from the social media quoted a witness as saying that the attackers were in army uniform and could not speak Igbo language.
“We all were in the church during the 6am morning mass today, we saw two cars that drove into the church; because it was a Church premises we over looked it and we considered them to be people that came for morning mass(service).  But to the surprise of everyone, the car halted at the center of the gate, meaning you cannot close the gate, since it is open already” according to the witness.
“The driver came out of the car pretending he was fixing a problem; so everyone still ignored the drama happening outside the premises. Suddenly, some men came out from the car, fully armed, all in Army uniform”.
Another woman who survived the mayhem said, “All I could remember is that I was sitting at the front when some people in Army uniform invaded the Church and started shooting at everyone. They just held the trigger and fired at everyone they sighted. I managed to hide under the seat but was shot in the leg.
“A boy was shot in head, his brain bursted, and blood spilled everywhere – even at my face,” the woman said.
The International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, led by Emeka Umeagbalasi, in a statement, said that the police, the government and the church had questions to answer in the case.
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, described the attack as beastly and sacrilegious.
Ekweremadu, who also described the day as a black Sunday, not only for Anambra State, but also the entire nation, called on the security agencies to fish out the killers and bring them to justice.
He said: “I received with a deep grief the news of the blood-curdling killing at St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu today. It is indeed a black Sunday and the act is most sacrilegious and condemnable.
“My heartfelt condolences go to the Government and good people of Anambra, especially the bereaved families and the Church. I also pray God to grant the deceased a peaceful repose and the wounded a quick recovery.
“However, this dastardly act brings to the fore, once again, the need to reengineer our security system, especially our policing system to arrest the rising wave of violent crimes in the country”.
The President, Muhammadu Buhari, condemned the attack, describing it as an unspeakable sacrilege.
Expressing his grief in a strongly worded statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari said that “there was no justification whatsoever to target church worshippers and kill them in cold blood, and added: “all Nigerians must rise up and speak with one voice against these remorseless evil men.”
While expressing his deep felt sympathy with the families of the victims, the church leadership and the government of Anambra State, President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his administration’s firm and uncompromising commitment to protecting their lives and property at all times.
Meanwhile, the names of the victims of the Sunday mayhem have been released.  They include Cyprian Ikegwuonu, Hyacinth Oramadike, Cecelia Enin, Eunice Akanigbo and Rose Okoye.
Others are Anulika Obunadike, Uchenna Obunadike, Anthonia Ufondu, Oluchukwu Uhelu, Christiana Igbeja, Udeze Pauline, Victoria Uzokwe and Florence Nweke.

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