Opinion: Beyond the Ozubulu massacre

The test of a truly democratic society, it has been said time and again, rests on its ability to ensure the adequate protection of the lives and property of its citizens. With that, they are able to reach their potentials. Sadly for us in this part of the world, it seems this vital requirement is far-fetched which is exactly why most of the perpetrators of heinous crimes go unpunished.

On Sunday, the 6th of August, a lone gunman attacked worshippers who had attended the 6 am mass at St Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu, in Anambra State. While the attack left as many as 12 worshipers dead in its wake, about 18 persons suffered varying degrees of injury according to media reports. The attack also raised the fears of many indigenes of the South East as to whether the region was about to witness its share of terrorist attacks.

When the acting president of the Federation, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo received the shocking news of the Ozubulu attack he said: “such barbaric act constitutes an affront to our common humanity and challenges, but will not overwhelm our collective resolve to rid our communities of all forms of violent crimes and criminality”. He also sent a five-man federal government delegation to condole with the government and people of Anambra state over the attack.

Also reacting to the attack, the Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano said it was not a terror attack but a “tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners who are from the same town”. While the statement by the State Governor has helped to douse the tension that was raised as a result of the attack, it has not completely erased the fears in the minds of the people.

Barely one week after the Ozubulu attack, Anambra State was hit by yet another attack. This time, a police man and a civilian were killed.

After the attack, the media were awash with different eye witness accounts. While some said the gunmen had momentarily stopped at the Assemblies of God church and opened fire on sighting some policemen, others said the gunmen shot a policeman and collected his rifle and also shot dead an Okada man.

While it was necessary for the acting president to condemn the attack as well as send a delegation to commiserate with the families of the deceased, lot more needed to be done. The question should not be whether the Ozubulu church shooting was drug gang related or terrorism related. It should not be whether the second attack was masterminded near the Assemblies of God Church or elsewhere either.

The major concern should be what measures can be taken to forestall future recurrence of such dastardly attacks on innocent citizens. Beyond merely condemning, our security forces must as a matter of urgency, begin to apportion due penalty to individuals who get immersed in acts that are considered detrimental to the progress of the nation. There is also every need to strengthen our security agencies at all levels, most especially now when the society has become increasingly more complex and worship centres are no longer safe havens. The various agencies must be adequately checked to rid them of highly incompetent officers.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Gideon Arinze is a student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.


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