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Fulani herdsmen attacks escalate

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By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA

Violent attacks by rampaging Fulani herdsmen in the Southern part of the country escalated at the weekend with the killing of a Catholic priest in Enugu and the kidnap of five pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

According to the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, the priest, Rev FR Paul Offu, Parish Priest of St. James the Greater Parish, Ugbawka, was killed along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu Local Government Area of the state.

Angered by his death, Catholic priests in Enugu State on Friday protested the killing. The angry priests marched to the Government House with placards, with inscriptions such as ‘enough is enough’, ‘government should rise to defend Nigerians’ and more.

They also matched through the major streets in the state capital to the police headquarters, chanting ‘God save Enugu people from murderous Fulani herdsmen, ‘enough is enough, the government should do something and save us.”

Catholic Diocese of Enugu State had through its Twitter handle announced the killing of the priest.

The church wrote, “With a deep sense of sorrow, the Catholic Diocese of Enugu announces the tragic death of Rev Fr Paul Offu who was shot dead on (1st August 2019) by some hoodlums suspected to be the notorious and murderous Fulani herdsmen, along Ihe-Agbudu Road in Awgu LGA.

“Fr. Offu hailed from Okpatu in Udi LGA of Enugu State and until his death, was the parish priest of St. James the Greater Parish, Ugbawka. May perpetual light shine upon his gentle and illustrious soul.”

Offu’s killing is coming barely five months after Rev. Fr. Clement Ugwu, Parish priest of St Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu Local Government Area of the State was killed.

Fr. Ugwu’s who was kidnapped on March 20, 2019, was found dead in a bush decomposing after a one-week search by his parishioners.

Communication’s Director, Catholic Diocese of Enugu Reverend Fr. Benjamin Achi said that the priest was killed by Fulani herdsmen.

“Fr. Offu was stopped by the murderous herdsmen while returning to his parish after a visit to priest friend along Ihe-Agbudu road in Awgu LGA.

“They dragged him to the bush but one of the assailants said kill him that the church would not do anything if they kidnapped him.”

While lamenting that Catholic priests were becoming targets of attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the Enugu, Fr. Achi said that another priest, Rev. Fr. Paulinus Ikechukwu Ilo who was shot in the ankle by suspected Fulani herdsmen along Numeh-Nenwe Road in Nkanu East Local Government Area on July 18, 2019, is still in the hospital.

The police spokesperson, Ebere Amaraizu, said that the police has commenced an investigation into the killing to fish out those behind it.

Also, five pastors of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) on their way to attend the church’s ministers’ conference in Lagos were kidnapped by suspected herdsmen on last Thursday night.

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The General Overseer of the church, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, while announcing the kidnap of pastors, said the abduction took place on Friday along the Ijebu-Ode axis.

He charged the congregation to pray for the release of the abductees, saying it was the first time such incident was happening.

“As a father, how do you think I should feel to hear that five of my children have been kidnapped while on their way to attend the Ministers Conference?” he asked.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Police Command has released the names of the five kidnapped pastors of the RCCG.

The police also said they have located the forest where the five abducted pastors were kept at the Ogbere – Ijebu – Ode (Ogun State) stretch of the Lagos –Ore expressway.

The names of the abducted pastors are: Chidioze Eluwa, Chiemela Iroha, Okoro Ohowukwe, Ndubuizi Owuabueze, and Ibeleji Chidinma (female).

According to the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abimbola Oyeyemi, about 10 hoodlums, intercepted the commercial bus marked KW 230 XA in which the kidnapped victims were traveling from Abia State to Lagos.

Oyeyemi disclosed that the commercial bus, belonging to Abia line Transport Company, was intercepted at the J3 area of Ogbere in Ijebu Waterside local government area of the state.

He said the police had successfully “geo – locate” the hideout of the kidnappers where the incident occurred, adding that the state’s Commissioner of Police (CP), Bashir Makama had led a powerful police rescue team to the location with a view to rescuing the victims.

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