It felt like a scene out of American Hollywood western, a gory art of make-belief our Nollywood producers are yet master. But it happened early Sunday August 8, 2017 at St. Phillips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area. A lone wolf gun man reportedly pounced on early morning Mass and sprayed hapless worshippers with bullets leaving in the wake trail of blood and death.
Thus a state widely acknowledged as haven of peace and security suddenly lost its innocence to senseless drug war transported from an African country in macabre fashion to a quiet Ozubulu community by sons of the devil. The grisly tale of bloodletting on a solemn Sunday morning took the often impregnable Anambra security apparatchik and a whole community unawares. By the last count, eleven persons lay dead and about eighteen others lay injured in nearby hospitals.
For a state that has not witnessed any high profile crime like bank robbery or major kidnap in over three years, the shoot-out in the house of God was a sacrilege. As news of the attack filtered in, security agencies scrambled to the scene where the Commissioner of Police, Garba Umar and his team spread their drag-net in a coordinated search and rescue operation, and immediate man-hunt for the culprits. On the other hand, the governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, whose stellar performance on security was under threat, rushed to the scene in warm embrace with the victims and the Ozubulu community to get first-hand information and reassure the citizenry that such brigandage cannot be allowed in his domain.
Evidently no modern security cordon could have prepared any state for the eventuality of mass shooting perpetrated by degenerates who often operate under the influence of substances that deaden them from humane feelings. The Ozubulu massacre was no exception, being the first of its kind in the state, it left everyone paralyzed with fear and confusion. The fact that Governor Obiano rose to the challenge immediately he heard in a selfless display of courage and non-partisan leadership in time of crisis is commendable.
It is particularly reassuring that governor Obiano took up the gauntlet by immediately being amongst our people to assuage the angst which built up over an act alien to the people and abhorrent to Igbo culture and tradition – that sons chose to wage modern warfare on each order irrespective of the collateral damage to the innocents especially women and children.
It is also heartening to note the reassurances of the security agencies and the fact that some suspects are already in custody over the ignoble act. While the investigation continues there is urgent need for caution against incendiary comments and unsubstantiated allegations and deliberate falsehood aimed at scoring cheap political points against perceived enemies. Granted that we are in political campaign season, it does not augur well for any person or group to use the unfortunate incident to ratchet up the game of political brinksmanship in Anambra ahead of the November elections.
The expressed readiness of the government and indeed the security agencies to surmount the challenges of the new threat and sustain the pleasant regime of peace and security of lives and property across the state should be supported. Although some bad eggs may have momentarily distorted the peaceful order we are used to for some time now, it is reassuring to note that gang wars cannot stop Anambra.
What is important is that Ndi Anambra should collectively say never again by not allowing fear to distort the state’s progressive match. The proactive management of the Ozubulu crisis is reassuring. But if any among us, still harbor doubts about our future as Light of the nation, he/she should pause and reflect on the excellent leadership we have witnessed over the last three years.
Ejimonu247@gmail.com writes from Ogbakugba Holiday Resort