Voices of Pain, Trauma From Ozubulu

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OKECHUKWU OBETA writes on the pain and anguish of the families of the dead and injured in last Sunday’s blood-letting in St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Anambra State.

It will certainly take Sunday Obunadike, aged 35, and an indigene of Ozubulu, in Ekwusigo local government area of Anambra state, a very long time to overcome the trauma that afflicts him at the moment. His wife, Anulika was one of those whose lives were tragically terminated on the black Sunday of August, 6, 2017, when a trigger-happy gunman invaded  St. Philip’s Catholic Church, Ozubulu and attacked worshippers, leaving 13 dead and 22 with gun woundsS.

The greatest source of his current nightmare is definitely how he is going to cope with the huge responsibility of raising their two children who are still very tender in age. The first child, Ifedinaka is less than four years, while the second, Onyemaechi is about five months old, meaning that Onyemaechi is still breastfeeding. The two children also sustained bullet injuries, and were still in hospital receiving treatment.

Sadly still, in addition to his wife, Obunadike also lost his younger sister, Uchenna in the attack on the worshippers who were in the church for the 6am mass.

Devastated and shattered Sunday told our correspondent that though his two children were not seriously hit by the bullets, and that they were recuperating, the absence of their mother is taking toll on them.

He said, “They are getting better, but, because they have not seen their mother, they are always looking sad. Because they are still they tender in age, they need their mother more than they need me. How am I going to take care of these children? It is really going to be tough for me, because my mother has already died. I am a bricklayer and my wife was very helpful because she was a trader. She was supporting me a lot,”Obunadike said.

When our correspondent arrived Obunadike’s home in Ofufe-Amawa village on Thursday, several sympathisers, including close and distant relatives, aged and young, men and women besieged their family consoling Obunadike and his aged father, Chief Edwin Obunadike, aged 90 years.

Chief Obunadike, is as devastated as his son, Pa Obunadike told our correspondent that he had already pronounced curse on the killer of his daughter-in-law and his daughter, Uchenna. “The person who killed my children must meet his tragic end too. Since I was born we have never experienced this type of tragedy in this our village. I have not even heard a story that such a thing ever happened in this our place even before I was born” Pa Obunadike stated.

Similarly, Josephat Okoye aged 60, is also one of those that will live with the agony of the church attack for a long time. The bullets hit him on his two hands. He was still receiving treatment at the Access Hospital, Ozubulu when our correspondent went to the hospital last Thursday. His greatest source of nightmare however was his mother who was also killed in the attack.

Okoye; “I am a member of the choir. What happened was that it was one person that caused all the havoc that happened on that day. The man came and stood on the entrance door into the church from the back. Immediately he fired the first shot everybody in the church became confused.

“The first person the bullet hit was a church warden. Immediately, I saw him drop down, I quickly laid down on my belly, and started crawling on my belly, looking for how I can escape. I noticed that when his bullets got finished, he started loading another magazine. He started shooting everybody in the church, he didn’t come into the church. I don’t believe that the person had any person in mind. He didn’t fire at any person in particular, he was just spraying the bullets anywhere he faced.”

Mrs Catherine Ndubueze, aged 64, was also one of the not too lucky members of the church. She is writhing in severe pains in her hospital bed at Access Hospital, Ozubulu. For five days after the incident the grandmother still cannot eat anything. She had earlier undergone surgery and a bullet was extracted from her belly. The bullet pierced through her right hand and into her belly.  Her eldest daughter, Amaka Dike is fervently praying God to spare her mother’s life. “My mother is so precious to me. Who will take care of me if I put to bed? The person who did this to my mother will certainly meet his tragic end. My mother is a very peaceful woman. Why should anybody subject her to the type of pain she is passing through?”

Another injured, Adobi Akpujekwu,  mother of two had a bullet extracted from her buttocks. She is one of the injured victims on admission in Access Hospital. Her husband, Cornelius Akpujekwu who last year, lost his mother and his elder brother said, “If my wife had been killed, it would have been difficult for me to bear it because it will appear as if I am under curse. I buried my mother and my senior brother not up to a year now. So, I pray God to let my wife recover fast. I have been passing through serious trauma because of what happened to us in this our town.”

Indeed, palpable fear has engulfed the entire Ozubulu community since the unfortunate incident. The town has been thrown into mourning. Investigations, show  that the number of the victims were grossly underestimated. The statistics of those who lost their lives in the attack as released by the Most Reverend Hilary Paul Okeke, Bishop of Nnewi the Catholic Diocese is put at 13. But findings by our correspondent shows that there is one of the victims whose corpse was deposited at the Joint Hospital morgue, Ozubulu, while there some other corpses that were deposited in New Heaven Hospital, Ozubulu.

Caroline Ikegwuonu is one of those the attack will leave a sour taste in their mouths for a very long time. In addition to losing her husband, Cyprian Ikegwuonu, Caroline has been writhing in pains in her hospital bed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Teaching Hospital due to the bullet wounds she sustained in the attack.

Ikegwuonu is the father of the South Africa-based, Mr. Bishop Ebubechukw uzo whose alleged feud with one Abucholo, another native of the Ozubulu town and one Uche Ginika who was killed in South Africa following business deals that went awry was responsible for the attack.

It has indeed been wailing and crying in many families in Ozubulu since the the attack. In the bishop’s list for instance Oramadike family alone curiously recorded five injured victims; Udegbulam family recorded two, Ndulue family recorded two.

However, while the total number of those hospitalised as contained in the bishop’s list is 23, a careful check on the list showed that names of the injured persons who are currently in private hospitals were omitted by the bishop of the diocese. The list released by the bishop appears to be only those contained in the records of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), Nnewi.

For instance, investigation by our correspondent showed that none of the names of the three injured worshippers currently on admission at Access Hospital, Ozubulu  was included. The three persons are: Mrs Catherine Ndubueze, Mr. Adobi Akpujekwu and Mr. Josephat Okoye. Sources in the town also informed our correspondent that some other injured persons were admitted in Evans Hospital, Ozubulu.

The medical director of Access Hospital, Ozubulu, Dr Anyim Chidi when contacted, confirmed that Catherine, Adobi and Okoye’s names were erroneously ommitted in the bishop’s list. He further disclosed that one of the injured parishioners, Ann Ejidike was also admitted in the hospital, treated and had been discharged. The medical director further disclosed that Ejidike’s  name was not on the  list released to the public by the bishop.

Dr Chidi “We are handling the cases of the church attack as a humanitarian service, because most of them are not rich people; they are mostly artisans. We were told that government promised that it will take care of their bills, but we are not waiting for that. What we have done is that we have sent the names of those of them who are here to the Catholic bishop of Nnewi in case government wants to do something for them because their names were not on the list we saw that was released on the Internet. There is even one of them we have treated and discharged. She was able to pay a little money, and we allowed her to go.”