The Civil Liberties Organisation, South East Zone is to say the least, saddened over the unfortunate massacre of innocent worshippers at St. Philips Catholic Church, Umezekwe, Ofufe Amawa, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo LGA, Anambra State on Sunday 06/08/17.
The killings is a manifestation of how low our society has sunk in imbibing the ethics of right and wrong, quest for materialism, revenge and forgiveness, upholding the right values and glorifying ill gotten wealth.
From available pieces of information so far, (High Chief) Aloysius Ikegwuonu, a.k.a Bishop who is at the centre of the whole storm has been in the public scene for some years now, yet nobody cared to question his source of wealth.
He has been the toast of musicians both highlife, gospel and secular. The Church hierarchy cutting across several denominations starting from the Bishops to the clergy have been falling head over heels “in love” with him because of his deep pocket and acclaimed philanthropy.
Last year, 1st May 2016 to precise, he dedicated St. Aloysius Chuch of Divine Mercy , Eziora Ozubulu to mark his 35th birthday. This year on the same date, having built the St Philips Church earlier, he upped the ante by drawing the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano to the community for the commissioning of road projects he built in the area. Sources said the Governor made him an automatic political leader in Ozubulu and had also honoured his invitation for about three times in the past.
The traditional institutions are not left out in the bastardisation of the societal value system in Igbo land. What was the criteria used in selecting and conferring the status of a “High Chief” on Ikegwuonu and also rewarding him with several titles like “Akuchinyere Nwata 1, Uzochukwu Kwalu 1? “etc .
Our value systems seems to have collapsed because many are already worshipping the god of mammon who takes glory in ill gotten wealth and commands enormous respect with it.
From various communities across the South East, this seems to be the fad while those who preach sanity, morality, integrity and other virtues are sometimes seen to be living in the “old school era”.
What does the society expect to reap in return when certain rules are bent just to accommodate the “rich”? It becomes more painful when those who acquired wealth through legitimate means worthy of emulation are lumped together with those whose own wealth carries big question marks and both enjoys same privilege . A rich man is permitted to sack his old wife, marry a sweet sixteen and also wed again in church. A drug baron is allowed to build churches and parish rectory, when he comes late in church, protocol is breached and preaching interrupted to welcome him. Security Chiefs struggle to visit him and also spend odd hours waiting while such people also have unfettered access to the security chief’s office. They move with retinue of aides and escorts. The list of the abnormalities and anomalies are endless.
The Ozubulu massacre was an avoidable tragedy and it would have been better for our leaders in the society connected in any way to the underlining scenario to own up on their failure to stand up when it mattered most instead of giving excuses or shedding crocodile tears.
To the Government of Anambra State: The Governor did well by rushing to the scene of the shooting and mobilizing for the treatment of the injured. But no form of compensation can bring the dead back to life. The families of the victims will live with the scars of this incident for life. The Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State should have a background check info of any ‘big man’ in the State. It is not enough to rush into demolishing structures built by suspected kidnappers and front security as its trump card, yet there are many security- risk- individuals who hobnob with the state Chief Executive and are even promoted as “stakeholders” and “political leaders”. The onus is on the governor to ensure complete post rehabilitation of the affected families and individuals, get to the root of the perceived drug gang war which has spiraled into families and communities outside Anambra and ensure that justice and peace prevails among individuals, families and communities.
To the law enforcement agents: It is not enough for the Anambra State Police Command to tell the world that the incident has no other undertone other than drug war between two brothers while some arrests have been made . The shooting is an indictment on the state command whose men still rank the highest in Nigeria in extorting road users through their numerous check points. The killers who stormed the church were not invisible and did not fly through the air. They still passed the various check points even along the Onitsha-Owerri road before entering Ozubulu and have met policemen on the road who probably hailed them in their jeeps and demanded “something for the boys” allowing the killers to go undetected. Intelligence gathering and proactive method remains the hallmark of modern day policing instead of reactionary and post strike method. We call on the Inspector General of Police to not only take over the investigation of this matter but use a special squad who will work with INTERPOL to ensure that those connected to the killings whether residing here in Nigeria and elsewhere abroad are arrested, prosecuted and justice served. Security agencies should also stop the present siege on the people of Ozubulu. The situation requires discreet investigation and not flooding the community with uniformed men thereby increasing the blood pressure of the already traumatized people of the area.
To the Church: It is time for atonement. While the Church of God founded on Christ the solid rock who died for humanity and the blood of his martyred apostles and saints remains spotless, its leaders and we the followers seems not to hear the Master’s voice anymore. The craze for materialism has led some churches to do fund raising during burial services while some wait earnestly on outing services so as not to allow the wealthy sympathizers to go without ‘dropping something’. While praying the repose of those who died in this unholy butchery, the church should do reparation pleading for God’s mercy. It is time to evaluate how to ask and also receive donations in the church. If God could reject King David’s offer to build him a temple, church leaders should also be bold to reject any offer from anybody with question mark.
This inhuman act is a wakeup call for all stakeholders in the society including the church to review its roles in inculcating morals and upholding the right values instead of glorifying wealth acquired from questionable means.
Finally, let justice prevail at all times so that the blood of the innocent shed will never be in vain.
Signed for the Civil Liberties Organisation , South East Zone
Comrade Aloysius Attah,
Comrade Pedro Azuogu Esq