The Nigerian police say at least 11 people died in a church on Sunday when a man opened fire in Anambra state.
The incident at Saint Philips Catholic church in Ozubulu town left a nation shocked and rumours quickly spread that it was an attack by religious fundamentalists from northern Nigeria who hate the Igbo nation.
But the police and government officials quickly countered, explaining that it was a rift between two indigenes of the community based in South Africa that led to the mass killing of innocent people.
A prominent Nigerian professor in the United States who is from Anambra, Mr. Okey Ndibe, in a Facebook post, said word on the street had it that it was a feud between two drug lords.
“Carnage inside a Catholic Church in Ozubulu, a town in my home state, Anambra. Gunmen killed or maimed scores during an early morning Mass. Word on the street: a feud between drug lords provoked the horrid attack.
“Apparently a notorious drug kingpin from the town, who operates from a base in South Africa, built the church singlehanded and handed it over to ecclesiastical authorities. Apparently the shooters were targeting the benefactor (who wasn’t present) and his father (reportedly one of the casualties).
“It’s a tragedy inside an absurdity. It beats me that any bishop should accept a church built with drug money,” he wrote.
The police held a press briefing after the incident and gave details of the incident as highlighted below.
The purpose of this briefing is to intimate you on the shooting incident that happened this morning.
At about 6.30hrs of 6th August 2017. I got a distress call that gunmen had invaded St. philip Catholic church Amakwa in Ozubulu, Ekwusigo LGA while the mass was going on and shot at worshipers.
Police teams along with other sister security agencies under my direct supervision were deployed to the scene to rescue the worshippers.
Victims were evacuated to the hospital, and the hospital authority has confirmed 11 persons dead, and 18 injured as a result of the shooting.
The Executive governor of the state visited the scene while I was there, and assured the injured persons of his support in offsetting the medical bills and that the full wrath of law will be visited on the perpetrators.
The Command under my watch will leave no stone unturned in locating and prosecuting those behind the massacre of innocent worshippers.
The Command assures Ndi Anambra and the general public that the Police is on top of the situation and will locate and prosecute the perpetrators soon.
Intelligence report/Preliminary investigation shows that the incident is as a result of a feud between two individuals who are from the community but who live outside Nigeria, one of the individual we learnt, built the church where the incident occurred. It is definitely not a terrorist attack in the mould of boko haram or fulani herdsmen attack.
The Command views this dastardly act as sacrilegious but for now considers it still premature to disclose the identities of those involved in the act.
The Command will brief the public after investigation is concluded.
I commiserate with all those who lost their loved ones from this unfortunate incident and pledge that the command would not rest on its oars until the perpetrators are apprehended to face justice.
I want to also encourage Ndi Anambra to be vigilant and to report strange and suspicious movement of persons and actions in their locality to the security agencies promptly, please.
. GARBA BABA UMAR, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE ANAMBRA STATE