Catholic Bishop of Nnewi, Most Rev. Hilary Okeke, yesterday, warned that there might be more killings in Ozubulu community should the perpetrators of the August 6 attack on worshippers at St. Phillip’s Catholic Church, Amakwa Ozubulu, Anmabra State, refuse to repent.
The Bishop spoke just as the Federal Government reaffirmed its earlier vow to track down the perpetrators of the crime.
Okeke, who spoke when a delegation of the Federal Government led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, paid him a courtesy visit at the Assumption Cathedral Nnewi, described what happened in Ozubulu as terrible.
Other members of the delegation were: Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril; and the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka.
The cleric, in whose diocese the incident happened, said the church has celebrated a special mass in the community for the perpetrators of the heinous crime to repent and turn to God.
He said: “The incident is terrible, which I can’t say why and how it happened. We’ve celebrated mass in the place. The church in question has been sealed off; so we had to use another church in the community to celebrate the mass for the souls of those who died and for the quick recovery of those who sustained injuries. “We also prayed for the perpetrators to repent and accept Christ. We are not saying that government should not play their role by prosecuting them. But for me as a Christian, I would want them to repent so as to save their souls. Besides, if they don’t repent, more people will be involved.”
While informing the delegation that the diocese had set up a fund raising committee to assist the victims, the Bishop appealed to both the federal and state governments to intervene and help families of the victims.
He commended the Federal Government for the show of concern on the matter, saying, “this shows that the Federal Government cares for her citizens, whether in the East, South, West or North.”
Earlier in his speech, Ngige said the Federal Government would track down the perpetrators of the crime, noting that President Muhammad Buhari had earlier sent his condolences to the state through Governor Willie Obiano.
“But we felt that letter was not enough, so the Acting President had to send us to come and commiserate with you, the state and the Ozubulu community,” he added.
He noted that the Ozubulu church attack was a call to more security consciousness, assuring that the Federal Government would work out measures to prevent a recurrence of such incident.
The federal delegation also visited the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where some of the victims were being treated and scene of the incident, St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, where they interacted with the natives.
Speaking at the NAUTH, Ngige said the Federal Government has resolved that any of the victims whose case is beyond the hospital should be flown abroad at the government’s expense.
“Our mandate is to take abroad those who cannot be treated here. It could have been worse, if this hospital is not located here. We thank the CMD, the doctors, nurses and other hospital workers who have been working round the clock to save the lives of victims,” he said.
The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of NAUTH, Prof. Anthony Igwegbe, who took the delegation round the wards where the victims were admitted, disclosed that six of the victims were at the Orthopedic Trauma Centre of the hospital located at Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
He said that while seven of the victims had been treated and discharged, some of the victims admitted at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital had been relocated to the regular wards.
The Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Dr Nkem Okeke, who represented Obiano at the visit, told the delegation that last Sunday was a sad day for the people of the state, adding that when the incident happened, there was speculation that Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen had struck, but the Governor promptly cleared the air after visiting the scene of the incident.
Meanwhile, in a statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Acting President, Laolu Akande, announcing the delegation, Osinbajo again extended his deep commiserations to the families, friends of the victims and the Ozubulu community on the death of their sons and daughters, while praying for the speedy recovery of the injured still in the hospital.
He said the Federal Government under President Buhari remains undeterred and would continually commit to deploying all available resources towards ensuring adequate security of lives and property in Anambra State and across the entire country.
He reiterated that the law enforcement agencies would bring perpetrators of the heinous crime to justice without any delay, adding that he would remain engaged with Governor Obiano, the Police authorities and other security agencies to ensure that the lives and property of citizens of Anambra State and indeed all Nigerians are well protected anywhere they may live.