President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the attack meted out on the faithful of St. Phillips Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra State by a yet to be identified gunman.
Buhari, who described the incident as “an appalling crime against humanity and unspeakable sacrilege”said, the atrocity “plumbs the depth of depravity and extreme cruelty of the kind that words cannot adequately express.”
The police have confirmed that the attack left about 11 worshippers dead while dozen others were injured.
Expressing his grief in a strongly worded statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said that “there was no justification whatsoever to target Church worshippers and kill them in cold blood.”
According to the President, there is no religion that does not lay constant emphasis on the sanctity of life, and that “all Nigerians must rise up and speak with one voice against these remorseless evil men.”
Expressing his sympathy with the families of the victims, the Church leadership and the government of Anambra State, Buhari reassured all Nigerians of his administrations firm and uncompromising commitment to protect their lives and property at all times.
Also speaking on the attack, the All Progressives Congress, APC, commiserated with the Catholic Church in Nigeria as well as the government and people of Anambra State.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC condemned “the barbarism displayed by the callous attackers who gunned down defenceless people while they worshipped.”
The party called on security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are promptly apprehended and brought to justice.
It also urged security agents in Anambra and other parts of the country to provide adequate security in places of worship to forestall a repeat of the incident.
“We pray that the souls of the deceased rest in peace,” the party said.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said it was shocked to receive the news of the attack.
“This invasion is indeed barbaric, sacrilegious and a serious indication that our society is fast degenerating into a state of anomie with total moral collapse and utter disregard for the sanctity of human life,” the party said.
“We sympathise with the Governor of Anambra State, chief Willie Obiano and the entire people of the State; and in particular, worshipers of St. Philips Catholic Church and families of the Victims. We wish those injured quick recovery; and may the Souls of the departed rest in the Lord, Amen.”
The party said the killings was a wake-up call for the government to do more in the area of protection of lives and property.
In his reaction, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, condoled with his Anambra State counterpart, Willie Obiano, over Sunday’s church attack at St Philips Catholic Church Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The Governor in a statement on Sunday in Asaba by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, condemned in strong terms the unprovoked attack leading to the death of several worshippers.
The Governor expressed sadness on the desecration of the temple of God which served as a place of worship, adding that the Church is a place of refuge and devoid of attacks even in war situations.
“Our hearts are with the bereaved families at this moment of anguish. I pray that God grant the soul of the departed eternal rest as I urge the police and other security agents to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.
“To the Church, I urge you to be cheerful, prayerful and courageous in these trying times. Do not despair for everything that happens under the earth is for a reason. For God knows the end from the beginning,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has called on security operatives to check the proliferation of arms across the country.
“What are these silly gunmen here and there turning our nation to be? Whatever may be the reason or reasons for this dastardly act cannot justify this criminal jungle justice. Without doubt, the act is a madness that all of us must condemn in strong terms,” Samson Ayokunle, the CAN President was quoted as saying in a statement.
“If the places of worship are no longer safe again, what has become the security of lives and property,” the statement, signed by the head of media and publicity to the CAN president, Bayo Oladeji, queried.
Others who have expressed their condolences include ex-governor Orji Kalu of Anambra and Catholic Bishop of Nnewi Diocese, Hilary Okeke.