The apex organization of all Igbo socio-cultural associations, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned Tuesday’s killing of two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers during a church service in Benue State by Fulani herdsmen, saying that the action was not only despicable but unheard of in the history of this country.
Nnia Nwodo, President-General of Ohanaeze
The killing occurred at St. Ignatius Catholic Church Ukpor-Mbalom Parish, Gwer East Local government are of the state.
The names of the priests conducting the mass were given as Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha.
However, the President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, spoke at the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the organization in Enugu, Tuesday evening.
He said it was unthinkable that people could desecrate the hallowed or sacred place of worship and kill innocent worshippers without anybody or those in authority raising any eyebrow.
“The reports we are getting about the killing of two Catholic priests in Benue is worrisome and reprehensible. It should be condemned in all ramifications.
“It is despicable, condemnable and unacceptable. We have said it before and we are saying it again that Nigerians must be on the guard. These killings should not be allowed to continue,” Nwodo reportedly said.
Tuesday’s attack in the church came barely four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in the neighbouring Guma Local Government Area and the destruction of about 300 houses by men suspected to be military personnel in Naka, Gwer West local government area of the state.
It was learned that the several persons sustained bullet wounds while the invaders also sacked part of the village razing close to 60 houses, farmlands, economic trees as well as yam barns of their victims.
The daily 5:30am mass which many parishioners attend, had barely begun even as worshippers were still coming for the worship after which a burial ceremony would take place when sounds of rapid gunshots rented the air.
It was stated that, attacking the church, the invades descended on the community and razed over 60 houses, farmland, food barns after carting away what the people had in their barns
The Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Father. Moses Iorapuu said after the attack that, “Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha have been confirmed dead in the deadly attack by herdsmen/Jihadists early today on Mbalom village and St. Ignatius Quasi Parish Ukpor-Mbalom.
“In their classic style they burnt down homes, (the herdsmen) destroyed food items and killed at will.
“The police seem to know nothing of the attacks which have been going on in other villages within Benue State since the Anti -Open Grazing Law came into effect last year.
“Many people are asking why the International community has remained silent over the massacre of Benue citizens.
“The answer is simple: It has been the goal of the Jihadists to conquer Benue and Tiv people who resisted their advance into the middle belt and the Eastern part of
Nigeria since 1804, the people who rejected Islam and fought for the unification of Nigeria in the civil war of 1967 – 1970.
“The people of Eastern Nigeria therefore have little sympathy for Benue people who fought on the side of Nigeria. The Muslim North is enjoying a sweet revenge overshadowed by an insensitive regime.
“There were over 170,000 internally displaced persons before the Naka invasion and surely with the current situation in Mbalom, Benue will be flooded with thousands more.
“What cannot be said at this point is the consequences of the death of Missionaries in the silent killings that have been ignored by the government for over a year.
“The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, which is one of the largest Dioceses in Nigeria, has been active in providing relief materials including education and skills acquisition lessons.
“To go for the priests means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in, as a people!”
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