…Destroy police station, hospitalise cops, 62-year-old woman
Stories from Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The midnight raid of Ukpo, a community in Anambra State allegedly over a land dispute with the neighbouring Abagana community took place on August 19, 2016. But three months after the incident, the painful ripple effects are still being felt.
The incident caused a 42-year-old policeman, Cephas Mato, severe neurological damage and left a 62-year-old woman, Mrs. Felicia Onyemechi, with shattered legs. Mato, a sergeant, was allegedly shot by some of the hoodlums, numbering over 200, that the police alleged to be from the Abagana community, on the said day.
Three other policemen who sustained gunshot wounds in the attack, Ibrahim Nuhu, Haruna Dauda and Dafur Senshaa, have been discharged from hospital. It was gathered that the policemen from Dunukofia Division had responded to a distress call and rushed to the scene when they were attacked by the rampaging assailants. The hoodlums also burnt police patrol vans, motorcycles and vandalised all the buildings in the police post, including the residential quarters under construction.
The police initially branded the attack an act of terrorism going by the level of sophisticated weapons used by the attackers, which included petrol bombs and improvised explosive devices. Some suspects have been arrested and charged to court.
When the reporter visited the Toronto Hospital, Onitsha, Anambra State, recently to ascertain the condition of Mato, who has been in intensive care since then, it was a heart-rending sight to observe how efforts were still being made to keep him alive.
Chief medical director of the hospital, Dr. Emeka Eze, was not around when the reporter called. But one of the medical doctors on duty, Obi Stanley, revealed that, apart from Mato’s neurological defects, the policeman’s sight had not been fully restored and the patient still had memory loss.
The doctor said: “There are ballistic injuries inside his skull, we thank God he is recovering well. But he has neurological deficits.” He said Mato was admitted to the hospital with multiple gunshot injuries.
“He was bleeding profusely because the injuries were mainly on his skull and he was equally comatose. He needs help from the police and the government should rehabilitate him. This will serve as an encouragement to others,” he said.
The victim’s 30-year-old wife, Mrs. Seratu Cephas, said her husband’s condition was critical but she expressed gratitude to the doctors at the hospital for the job already done to save her husband’s life.
The sergeant’s wife commended one of the community leaders in Ukpo, Prince Arthur Eze, for taking care of the hospital bills of her husband, adding that the man and the doctors at the hospital had given her enough hope.
The victim, who spoke incoherently at a point, noted that Prince Arthur Eze and Anambra police command had acted like parents and he thanked his wife for standing by him.
Another victim of the clash, Mrs. Onyemechi, who was shot by the hoodlums in both legs, was still in pain when Daily Sun visited the hospital where she was receiving treatment in Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka Local Government Area.
It was equally gathered that her bills had been taken care of by the same Ukpo community leader, Eze. Mrs. Onyemechi was said to have been shot in her house in Abagana community by the hoodlums at night, when she allegedly refused to mobilise women to protest.
Sadly, during the attack on August 19, an indigene of Ukpo who was a security guard at a construction site, Emmanuel Okafor, was killed, while the four policemen sustained gunshot injuries from the hoodlums. Okafor was buried recently amid an outpouring of emotions by youths and community leaders in Ukpo.
After the mayhem, the state police command declared one of the alleged kingpins, Emmanuel Nwude wanted.
The police command later arrested the said Nwude and charged him to court for attempted murder, murder and terrorist attacks, among 24 other charges.
He has been remanded in custody while the case has been adjourned to January 16, 2017.
Traditional ruler of Ukpo, Igwe Robert Eze, who described the attack as provocative, said the Abagana people were fighting a lost battle. He said he was yet to come to terms with the situation whereby people who knew that they were defeated in court over a land matter could just invade another community to wage war without any provocation.
Traditional ruler of Abagana, Igwe Mbamalu Okeke, who declined a formal interview, appealed for calm. He noted that no matter how serious the situation might be, peace would still prevail in the end.
Anambra community showcases culture in Lagos
By Cosmas Omegoh
Ihiala community recently showed itself as Anambra’s culture powerhouse when it celebrated its triennial Ihiala Cultural Day/Iri Ji fiesta in Lagos.
It was a unique carnival featuring traditional wrestling, cultural extravaganza and new yam celebration all emphasising the community’s rich culture and tradition that have evolved through the ages.
Members of the community ended the spectacular night on a high note with a string of awards going to eminent personalities, including Senator Andy Uba and Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Valentine Ntomchukwu, among others.
The day began with thousands of Ihiala indigenes and guests trooping to the Ihiala House at Odofin Park, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos. They were upbeat that the event, which was in its sixth edition, would live up to its billing. And it did.
Indigenes of all the zones in the greater Ihiala were decked in their colourful traditional attire. Most of the men of title wore assorted Igbo outfit of old, including wrappers, gowns and animal skins as well as anklets and armlets. They had caps decorated with eagle feathers to signify their socio-cultural standing in the clan. Some held spectacular walking sticks and flutes made from animal horns, which they blew intermittently, each time letting out some esoteric sounds. The professionals in their midst were on top of their game, ‘singing’ with their flutes and sending the arena into a frenzy.
The women wore various colourful ‘uniform’ wrappers and headties. The women of title spotted anklets and had their wrappers tied at the breast line with their bare backs and arms decorated with intricate patternsb and tattoos. Even some of their children spotted traditional Igbo dresses, complimenting their outing with beads.
Adding verve to the day, all the villages brought their dance troupes. Each stood at the entrance of the expansive compound thrilling guests. Most members of male and female dance troupes were men and women of means who were sheer culture activists. They kept singing, dancing and entertaining guests with the obvious intent of making it a day if fun and culture to remember. Each time a prominent personality arrived, their village troupe escorted them to the main arena with songs of praise.
Soon after the introduction of guests and kolanuts blessed and eaten, the event started under the chairmanship of Ichie Chux Amamgbo.
Recognition was paid to Governors Willie Obiano and Akinwunmi Ambode of Anambra and Lagos states, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe C.I. Okechukwu, the Oluoha XVI, and the President-General of Ihiala Progress Union (IPU), Mr. Jude Ngobili.
In his opening remarks, President of IPU, Lagos chapter, Dr. Modestus Onuchukwu, noted that the Cultural Day was started in 1995 and was staged every three years to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the Ihiala people in Lagos. He used the occasion to highlight his achievements in office, and expressed the hope that part of the money realised on the night would assist in building a civic centre at home in Anambra State.
The atmosphere turned electric when two men, each weighing over 90kg, charged into the arena, a big space where a traditional wrestling bout was decided. Both actors, in their traditional wrestling dress, radiated an air of mystery and drama. Looking fearsome, they charged about, forcing everyone to their feet. Then they closed in, causing the crowd to roar hysterically. Soon the encounter ended with a winner.
Next was the cutting of the new yam. Daily Sun learnt that no Ihiala man could taste the crop before the paramount ruler of the community. Igwe Oluoha ate the new yam a couple of days back and that was why the occasion could hold.
On this occasion, several big tubers of yam were laid out on the floor. The correspondent gathered that the roasted yams eaten at the event were ‘imported’ from home. Each prominent person and leader of the zones cut a piece, made some remarks and then ate it after dipping his portion in a sauce and followed with personal donations.
The event also witnessed awards to nine men and women. The women were honoured with the title of Adadioranma (the community’s preferred daughter). Senator Uba sent his goodwill message and donation through a representative. DIG Ntomchukwu who could not hold back his joy, thanked the community for the honour. He pledged to serve them to the best of his ability and enjoined them to shun crime. With that segment, the curtain was drawn on the event. Chairman of the organising committee, Mr. Arcadius Aniegbuna, expressed satisfaction at the outing, describing the event as a huge success.
When Ladies of Saint Mulumba converged on Lagos
•Archbishop Martins preaches mercy, forgiveness, at LSM convention
By Jet Stanley Madu and Vivian Onyebukwa
Recently, members of the Ladies of Saint Mulumba (LSM) society from all parts of Nigeria were in Lagos for the group’s 38th national convention, in Festac Town.
Ladies of Saint Mulumba are wives of members of the Knights of Saint Mulumba, an organisation in the Catholic Church, often referred to as soldiers of the church. The ceremony had the slogan “Eko 2016: God’s Mercy Unlimited,” with the theme “The Family: Altar of Mercy.”
It was the third LSM Nigeria Convention to be hosted in Lagos. The premises of the Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac, venue of the event, became a mini trade exhibition, as participants showcased their of articles of trade.
Rev. Fr. Simeon Ogunyase represented the speaker, Rev. Fr. Padre Mike Nsikak Umoh. Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins, declared the event open. He was assisted by Parish Priest, Holy Family Catholic Church, Fr. Irabor, and Rev. Fr. Ogunyase in celebrating the mass. In his speech, the Archbishop explained the need to reflect on the family and mercy. He said the family was of great importance to the church and society, adding that, at this time, families were facing serious challenges.
According to him, “Mercy is becoming a virtue less practised. That is why we have wars, terrorism and social injustice. The absence of world peace is, therefore, based on less mercy and forgiveness and this has its roots in lack of mercy and forgiveness in the home.”
He said, these days, many homes were witnessing turmoil, since the challenges in the home stemmed from the fact that it had become very hard to forgive and to be merciful: “I hope we still remember to bow our heads when we hear the name Jesus? And that we bend our knees when we hear his name because He is Lord.”
The LSM Nigeria is headed by Dame Pat Ngo Nwachukwu (JP) while the host Metro is led by Lady Monica Eigbe.
In her address, Nwachukwu pointed out that the organisation planned to use the forum to continue propagating the 2016 message of mercy by the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis. She enjoined everyone to imbibe the spirit of forgiveness and mercy, particularly in the family.
“We should see the family where we come from as the altar of mercy, because charity begins from home,” she said.
Speaking on some of the achievements of the organisation, Nwachukwu said the LSM was involved in evangelisation, social activities and missions: “When I talk of socialisation, we reach out to the poor and the less privileged, widows, orphans and more. And when I talk of missions, we move out to various places to preach the gospel.”
Nwachukwu spoke on LSM’s effort at transforming the wives of Catholic Knights, both in character and in deed, towards transforming society as a whole.
“You cannot try to change a nation without changing yourself. This is why we strive at making ourselves better wives and mothers. And we think we have changed ourselves and we are able to change others. When we talk of evangelisation, we have a school where we groom the girl-child. The place is superintended over by the second Vice President of the CBCM in Benin. We train them to be the exemplary girl-child of the Catholic Church.
“In Owerri, we have a project called the Women and Youth Empowerment Centre (WYECO). It takes care of trafficked girls, abused children, abused women and canvasses against violence against women. Also, in Kaduna, we have a health centre at a place called Jukum, a very interior location. And we reach out to the health of the people. There are various initiatives at other locations,” she said.
The 38th convention featured recognition awards and health talk that featured the LSM medical unit, which catered for the health needs of participants. “We need to be healthy to continue the work that we’re doing and to go on the mission,” Nwachukwu said.