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15 Aug 2017

Ozubulu Massacre: Community Youths Engage in Protest... Here is Their Grievance with the Catholic Church

Youths of Ozubulu, the community where a gunman attacked and killed worshippers in a church last Sunday have protested the reopening of St Phillip's Catholic church.
St. Philips Catholic Church, Ozubulu Anambra state
The Sun newspaper has reported that Ozubulu youths, under the auspices of Ozubulu Youths Association, yesterday, protested the re-opening of St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Amakwa Ozubulu, Anambra State barely a week after a gunman killed 13 worshippers in the church.

President of the association, Emeka Anakwe, said it was worrisome that the church would be re-opened for service when investigation into the matter had not been concluded or even the victims buried.

He noted that it was the highest level of provocation to see the church holding service when the community was still mourning.

Anakwe who condemned the attack on the innocent worshippers said the youths of Ozubulu were concerned about the matter as residents of the community no longer slept with their eyes closed because of fear of being attacked again.

The youths who took the protest to the Igwe’s palace and the police station in the town after moving round said their town had always been known for its peaceful nature.

Anakwe said the youths had been neglected for so long and would no longer accept such disposition from elders of the community “and we are prepared to play active role in the issues that affect the community.”

Meanwhile, renowned security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu has called on the Federal Government to urgently assemble a special task force to investigate the gruesome massacre of the 13 persons at the Catholic Church.

In a release issued in Lagos, Ekhomu said, “there is an urgent need to put strategies in place that will lead to the speedy detection of the gunman and his accomplices as a way of restoring the faith of citizens in the government of Nigeria.”

Ekhomu, who is president of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria said there was need to translate the words of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Governor Willie Obiano into action, as they have both pledged that the perpetrators would be detected and punished.

Ekhomu said leaving such a high profile mass murder case in the hands of local police personnel was “counter-productive and counter-intuitive.”

The expert said already, many crime scene procedures had been neglected, the crime scene contaminated and evidence not collected with proper chain of custody. He argued that the crime scene procedural errors that were made on August 6 would have implication on the detection and successful prosecution of the killers.

“Bullet–casings from that crime scene should have been gathered to enable a determination of the type of weapon used in the active-shooter incident.”

According to him, the special task force should include police detectives, intelligence officials, forensic scientists and behavioural psychologists. The task force, which he suggested should be chaired by a tough no-nonsense judge from Anambra State judiciary should also include two brilliant lawyers from the Federal Ministry of Justice and one lawyer from Anambra State Ministry of Justice. The goal of the task force is to follow the evidence-across national boundaries, if necessary and unravel the case within 90 days.

The panel should have the powers of subpoena and take testimonies under oath.

Ekhomu said the Ozubulu Massacre is a test case of the willingness and ability of the federal government to protect all citizens. He said protecting citizens goes beyond condemning acts of violence or describing how sacrilegious the attack is. He said arresting the perpetrators and trying them for culpable homicide was the only way to deter other Ozubulu-style mass murders and restore the faith of Nigerians in the government.

He remarked that a baby was killed in the terrorist attack along with eight women. “The human rights of all the dead must be redressed. They did not choose to die. The life was snuffed out of them. They must be avenged,” he added.

He advised the government to set up a tips hotline for this mass murder case and also announce a generous reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. The security expert called for daily progress briefing of the public by the task force. He said the public had a right to know the progress of the case in order to be enrolled and become part of the investigative process.

He urged the Acting President to take a principled stand on this massacre by immediately assembling and swearing in a special investigative panel. “The effluxion of time is not very helpful in a homicide investigation as witnesses start to forget details, evidence get destroyed and the perpetrators run further away from the proverbial long arms of the law.”

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