The killing on Thursday 1 August 2019, of a second Enugu Catholic priest within three months has been greeted with very strong condemnations across the country.
Rev. Fr. Paul Offu of St. James the Greater Catholic Church, Ugbawka, was brutally murdered by bandits at the Ihe-Agbudu road in Awgu Local Government Area of Enugu State while on his way to visit another priest at Agbudu Town.
Reactions to his death were swift:
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi:
Enugu Stare Governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, immediately summoned an emergency meeting of the State Security Committee which comprises both clergy, military forces, traditional rulers and other influential persons in the State.
Enugu Security Committee:
Enugu Commissioner of Police, Mr. Suleiman Balarabe, who briefed journalists after the meeting said the killers will be identified while all security cover will be provided at all black spots in the State, including the Enugu Port Harcourt expressway and villages surrounding it where a growing number of robberies and kidnappings have been reported of late.
Inspector General of Police
Shortly after the briefing, the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, a one-time commissioner of Police in Enugu, ordered a massive manhunt for the killers of the priest.
Adamu said he will mobilize to Enugu State a team of detectives from his Intelligence Response Unit (IRT), the Forensic experts from the Homicide sections of Force CID, to complement the State Command which is investigating the violent incident.
He also directed the Assistant Inspector General in charge of the South East Zone 9 to mobilize more units of Police Mobile Force personnel to black spots in Enugu State.
President Muhammadu Buhari:
The following day, Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari condoled with the Catholic Church, expressing deep shock and dismay over the killing of another priest, and ordered that the killers be hunted down and prosecuted.
Buhari characterized the killing as an assassination, describing it as “barbaric and unwarranted.”
“The entire nation is shaken by the horrible assassination of this priest” President Buhari said
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar:
In his reaction to the incident, former Vice President of Nigeria and Buhari’s opponent in the February 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, described the murder as a reminder that “no one is immune from the ravaging epidemic.”
He expressed sympathies with Enugu people and the family of the bereaved.
Senator Ike Ekweremadu:
Senator Ike Ekweremadu was also swift in reacting to the incident and expressing sadness at the dastardly murder which occurred in his constituency.
Taking a high road, he maintained that the surest way to tame insecurity in the land is to empower the federating states to better secure the lives and property of citizens.
“… at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me, once again, urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to take immediate steps to put in motion processes to restore decentralized policing, including state police,” the former deputy senate president said.
Chief Femi Fani-Kayode:
A former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, took a swipe at those who are targeting defenseless people.
“Those who target innocent and defenseless women, children and clerics for butchery and slaughter are nothing but cold-blooded killers and wholesale cowards who are too weak and timid to take on real men in battle,” he said in a statement.
Bishop Ezeokafor of Awka:
The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, condemned the killing and demanded for immediate arrest of the perpetrators.
The Bishop wondered why such heinous crimes should be allowed to take place in the first instance and urged the Enugu state government not to allow the matter to be swept under the carpet.
“I am sad. What manner of country is this? A country where some people are untouchables. A country some people will be killing innocent citizens. “What we are witnessing today is simply coordinated attack against certain individuals and groups.
“This senseless killing of the innocent Nigerians is becoming a daily occurrence. Why can’t our government put a stop to these killings here and there? Is it not obvious that some people, somewhere are carrying an agenda? There is more to this than meets the eye,” he stated.
Bishop Callistus Onaga:
“If there is a crop of bad herdsmen in the state, they should be fished out and we will continue to live in peace with the good ones,”
Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, Bishop of Enugu:
The Bishop of Enugu Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Callistus Onaga, said that the action of the priests marching to Government House Enugu to protest incessant harassment and killing of his priests was in order.
The protest reflects the displeasure of the Diocese over the incessant attacks on Catholic priests by hoodlums in the state, which he said the priests have been suffering for over seven years now. Bishop Onaga explained that Catholic priests were simply demanding for more security in the state. “If there is a crop of bad herdsmen in the state, they should be fished out and we will continue to live in peace with the good ones,” he said.
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