Aloysius Ikegwuonu's stepmother speaks on the Ozubulu Church attack as Ozubulu Monarch denies knowing him until

High Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu aka Bishop was the alleged target behind the devastating attack at St. Philip’s Catholic church in Ozubulu, Anambra.

Fidelis Nnamdi Oruche has in an interview with PUNCH revealed more about Aloysius Ikegwuonu and what he believes really caused the Anambra Catholic church massacre.

Interview was conducted by CHIDIEBUBE OKEOMA and TONY OKAFOR. Excerpts:

    Can we know you sir?

I am HRH Fidelis Nnamdi Oruche, the traditional ruler of Ozubulu community in the Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State.

    Who is Aloysius Ikegwuonu otherwise called Bishop to you?

I didn’t know Aloysius Ikegwuonu until he returned from South Africa as a rich person. The truth is that everybody in Ozubulu is my subject. So, I will say that Chief Aloysius Ikegwuonu is my brother. He is a well-known philanthropist in this town and beyond.

He had started helping the downtrodden, the less privileged and paying hospital bills of people before I met him. He had also started building projects like churches before we met. In all honesty, I will say that he is a very good person. He is not a bad man at all. He has a good heart and he is always ready to help people.

    Do you know what he does for a living?

How can I know what he does when he is based abroad? He does not live in Ozobulu. He told us that he does some business abroad. He is not the only person from Ozubulu who lives abroad. We have many sons and children of the community who live overseas especially in South Africa.

    What can you say about the killings in the Catholic Church which report noted that he built for the community?

I was not in the church when the incident occurred. Somebody called me on the phone to tell me about it. St Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, where the incident occurred, is a bit far from the palace. When the person called on the phone, the background was very noisy and I presumed that all was not well.

I was not feeling well on that day so I had to send somebody to the church. The report I got was devastating. The massacre took place around 6am. I was told that a tragedy had occurred in our community.

I was told that gunmen invaded the church and opened fire on people who had left their various houses to worship God. I was told that lifeless bodies littered everywhere. I was saddened by the report because those who died were all my subjects, my brothers and sisters. I quickly called my council head and informed him of the horrifying development.

The governor, who is the chief security officer of the state, together with security officers, arrived in the place quickly. Who has ever seen such a crime in the house of God before? Who has seen or heard that some invaded a worship place and didn’t say anything and only opened fire on people who didn’t do them any harm?

The community is in mourning. Our land has been desecrated by the perpetrators of this crime and they will not go scot-free. We will assist the security agencies and the government, both at the federal and state levels to make sure that justice is served.

    What could have led to such killings?

I don’t know of any drug deal as being reported. But I know that about three years age, Ozubulu Development Union in South Africa, was having serious leadership tussle.

Our children who are living there were having a disagreement over who becomes the chairman of the union. They didn’t agree and couldn’t resolve the issue among themselves. Mind you that we have Ozubulu Development Union all over the world. The union is for peace and development of our community.

So, when they couldn’t resolve the issue among themselves, all of them, numbering hundreds returned to the country from South Africa. The issue was brought before the President General of Ozubulu Development Union, Chief Nobert Anigbogu. Anigbogu tried his best but couldn’t solve the contentious issue. The factions insisted that the matter must be brought before me as the traditional ruler of the community.

Before then, some people disagreed that they would take a peace covenant in any shrine. The day the matter was scheduled to be heard in my palace, the crowd was overwhelming. I cannot recall the number, but we took minutes of the meeting including names of the attendees.

The meeting was a heated one but it wasn’t anything except a disagreement between brothers over who occupies the position of Ozubulu Development Union in South Africa. After ensuring peace, we invited the bishop of the Catholic Church diocese and a reverend father who came and prayed for us. The Blessed Sacrament was used as a covenant oath for everybody. The crowd was over two thousand people. We admonished them to be peaceful and live in harmony.

    Have there been similar killings in Ozubulu community?

Yes, it has happened before and that also was very saddening and mysterious. Up till today, we are desperately waiting for the killers of those four young men to be nabbed. This incident I am telling you happened around 2007.

Four of our security men were killed in a very agonising and painful manner by unknown people. Their body parts were not complete as we buried them. Their tongues, eyes and even private parts were taken away.

They were dragged into a bush where they killed them. It was painful. My brother was among the 2007 victims. The government and security agencies are aware of the issue. Their killers disguised by wearing camouflages. The victims were blindfolded. The palm wine tapper who saw them told us. We are still asking questions to know why they were killed and where their organs were taken to.

I’m lucky to be alive — Aloysius aka Bishop’s step-mother

    Tell us about yourself.

I am the stepmother of Aloysius Ikegwuonu, popularly known as Bishop.

    What can you say about the killings in the Anambra Catholic church?

We were in the church early in the morning of August 6 and while the service was in progress, a gun-wielding man arrived the entrance door and opened fire on the worshipers. He started shooting sporadically at a close range. We ran to escape the bullets flying around and in the process, one of the hit me. That was when I lost consciousness and was revived in the hospital. The bullet hit me in the stomach but I am getting better. I am waiting for the doctors to discharge me. I want to go home.

    How many people fired shots into the church?

I only saw one person and he was the one who stood at the door and opened fire on us. He didn’t say anything. I cannot really say if he wore a camouflage. I was only bothered about my escape at the time. I thank God that I am alive. The experience was a terrible one. Though the wound is giving me pain, I am better now and I want to go home.

    Do you think bishop who is your stepson is quarrelling with anybody?

I don’t know and I wouldn’t say what I don’t know. All I know is that while the service was ongoing, a man entered, stood at the exit door and opened fire on us. People ran, some survived and others died. I am among the lucky ones hit by bullets but survived.

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