A man who lost his three relatives to the bloody attack at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in the area Ozubulu area of Anambra State, and other victims have all narrated their bitter ordeal in the hands on gunmen on Sunday.
Samuel Ndulue (Middle) and other victims of the Ozubulu Catholic church attack yesterday (Photos: Vincent Ujumadu)
Shock and grief still pervaded Amakwa village, Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, yesterday, as the residents narrated their experiences, during the attack at St. Philip’s Catholic Church in the area, Vanguard reports.
Just like Sunday, the vicinity of the church was still besieged by hundreds of people from various parts of the country, especially people from the village whose relations worship at the church regularly. They came to find out the situation in their village.
This came as Police authorities in Abuja, yesterday, confirmed that three persons had been arrested in connection with the attack, just as Governor Willie Obiano dismissed insinuations that it was a terror attack against the church.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, also said it was already linking up with international collaborators and respective countries, with a view to establishing the veracity of the drug activities related with the bloody massacre.
How I lost three relations
Among those who spoke with Vanguard, yesterday, was Joel Obunadike, who lost his uncle, his brother’s wife and a baby. He said they were facing the alter when the gunman shot them from behind and the bullet caught them where they were sitting.
According to him, the deceased sustained injuries and died later at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi.
Obinadike added that his brother, whose wife and child were killed, had not even returned home.
It was gathered that the baby was taken to the theater for operation, yesterday, where she later died.
Joel said: “We were in the middle of the service when I noticed that a black jeep was parked outside. The car later moved from the spot and turned back a few minutes later and parked at the same spot.
“A young man came into the church through the back door of the church and started shooting, while backing the alter. Many people tried to escape through the two doors and to our surprise, the gunman started shooting at them on both doors. It was a terrible thing.
“I did not rush out like others immediately and it was most of the people who tried to escape that were either killed or wounded.”
Our ordeal – Victims
Two other victims, Samuel Ndulue and Chinasa Chukwueloka also gave a graphic description of what happened in the church.
Ndulue, who is heavily bandaged after undergoing an operation on his two legs said: “I was sitting on the third row from the front of the church when the shooting started and I got up to run away only for bullets to hit me on my two legs.
“I became unconscious and it was when I woke up that I discovered that I was in the hospital. I am happy to still be alive.’’
Miss Chukwueloka said it was a miracle that she was still alive, adding that she followed other people to run when the shooting started only to fall in the middle of the church when she was hit by bullets.
Mrs. Christiana Okafor, who hailed from the neighbouring Ihembosi community that worships at the church, said she had to return from Enugu to ascertain the situation, adding that though she did not lose anyone, she was sad that people had to lose their lives in such circumstance.
A nurse in charge of the Emergency Unit of NAUTH said, yesterday, that six of the injured persons admitted on Sunday had been transferred to the hospital’s outpost at Oba, while the remaining 22 were recuperating at Nnewi.
Other victims react
Similarly, Charles Justice, who brought his wounded friends to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital in Nnewi, said the incident happened after the homily at 6 a.m. Mass.
“Those who died are mostly children and the elderly, I know about three children who were below five years that died in the shooting,” said Justice.
He said three of the victims had died at the hospital, a claim corroborated by a medical doctor who did not want to be named.
Nonso Nwakibe thanked God as his mother, Antonia, laid groaning from the pains of the bullet wounds on her arm.
Ogochukwu Maduka, a Lay Reader at the church, who sat in the front row at the time of the attack, said she had arrived for the Mass and found the church in darkness.
“After much effort to get the generator to work failed, they had resort to using candles and rechargeable lamps.
“The holy Mass had proceeded as usual, after the first, second and gospel reading, and then the priest’s homily, as we stood up for the proclamation of faith, there was a sound of gun like thunder from behind.
“There was chaos, panic and confusion. The priest ran away as the gunshots continued and I took cover under the seat.
“When people started running around, the man began shooting upwards. Those mostly affected were those at the back of the church,” Maduka added that she counted about 15 corpses afterward.
Another victim, Nnagolum Oramadike, a primary three pupil, who was shot in the leg, said he “bent down” while the shooting was going on.
His mother, Chioma, who also sustained bullet wounds, said she was worried the news would devastate her husband, who had just travelled abroad to seek greener pastures, but hoped he would find out they were alive.
“The shooting started around 7 a.m. and my father in law was not so lucky. I don’t know how to take care of my children now I’m incapacitated,” said Mrs. Oramadike, 32, whose daughter was hit by a motorcycle amid the chaos.
Ifeoma Onyeka sat beside her 14-year-old daughter who had just been operated upon. Her elder, foster daughter, Anwurika Mboje, did not survive the attack, as she had died right inside the church.
“I survived by hiding under the seat while the children must have ran because of lack of knowledge of what to do in such a circumstance,” she said.