Suspected cultists who allegedly attacked and killed several mourners during a funeral on Saturday in Ebenebe community, Anambra State have been arrested.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Echeng Echeng, disclosed this while speaking with reporters during his visit to the Catholic Bishop of Onitsha Archdiocese, Valerian Okeke.
Mr Echeng said the visit was to seek the collaboration of the cleric and his counsel in tackling the growing insecurity in the state.
He said the police were leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the perpetrators would be made to face the weight of the law saying nobody has the right to take the life of another.
“Every life is precious, nobody has the right to take away somebody’s life.
“I can assure you that the command is on top of that situation because we have made some arrests and (we) hope to expand on those arrests,” the police commissioner said in a video clip posted on Facebook by the Anambra State Broadcasting Service on Wednesday.
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When contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Tochukwu Ikenga, confirmed the arrests, but said the command would not reveal the details until investigations and arrests were concluded.
“We are still working on them. We don’t want to disclose what we are doing, but some persons are already in (our) custody and they have been helping us with information,” Mr Ikenga told PREMIUM TIMES, Wednesday morning.
He said the police were working with other security agencies to apprehend other fleeing suspects.
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“Once we are done with that, I will get back to you (on the number of persons arrested),” he added.
The suspected cultists invaded the funeral ceremony, during the lying-in-state of the deceased, and opened fire on mourners, killing an unspecified number of people.
The assailants pushed down the casket, forcing the corpse to roll out.
Ozor Chukwuka, 34, a suspected cult leader whose funeral was being held during the attack, was said to have been gunned down by a rival cult group in December.
In a viral video, apparently shot after the attack, over 10 bodies were seen on the ground at the burial venue.
Many voices were heard in the video, crying and raining curses on the attackers.
Anambra Traditional Prime Minister speaks on Ebenebe Massacre
Earlier, the Traditional Prime Minister (Onowu) of Achalla and Member, Anambra State House of Assembly representing Awka North Constituency, Hon. John Nwokoye, IION; promised such event will not repeat itself.
He said this while visiting HRH Igwe Chris Nnaegbuna, Iga 11; Transition Committee Chairman of Awka North, Hon. Ferdinand Onwuje; President General, Hon. Paul Nnatuanya; and the loving people of Ebenebe.
”Never in the history of Awka North have we witnessed such level of monstrous cult related killings, that saw a large unconfirmed number of innocent funeral mourners gunned down without provocation. Such criminality i condemned in strong terms.
”I have been assured that the State Police apparatus had begun an investigation into the dastardly act with a view to apprehending and bringing those behind the killings to book.
”Henceforth, we shall earnestly work round the clock to ensure adequate measures are taken to prevent a repeat of such incident. For a starter, appropriate legislation will be made which will seek to attract hefty penalties for any cult related offences. We shall, as well, relentlessly push for the establishment of a police outpost along Amansea-Ebenebe-Ugbenu-Ugbene-AwbaOfemili road.
”For the victims who sustained various degree of gunshot wounds and are currently receiving medical attention at Amaku General Hospital, Awka, we shall not cease to remember them in our prayers. May the souls of those gruesomely killed, find eternal peace with our Lord Saviour and the family left behind to mourn them, may they be consoled.
”To the unfortunate sad event, we say, Ozoemena!”