. . Bishop Ezeokafor, Fr. Uzoezie React, Demand Justice
By Abuchi Onwumelu
officers of Anti-Robbery Squad in Portharcourt, Rivers State Command, have arrested a suspect in connection with the killing of an Awka Catholic Diocesan Priest, Rev. Father Godwin Ofonyelu, and his brother, Obikwelu. The suspect was nabbed four years after committing the crime.
The suspect, Simeon Anyaegbu, was later moved to Akure, Ondo State, shortly after the officers handed him over to the police in the state for proper investigation.
The Catholic priest, alongside his brother, Obikwelu Ofonyelu, was killed by suspected armed robbers in 2015.
The duo were murdered on the Owo-Oba-Akoko road in the Akoko South-West Local Council Area of the state.
The victims were travelling in a Sport Utility Vehicle when the armed robbers came out from the bush and shot sporadically at hem.
The robbers’ bullets hit the petrol tank of their vehicle, causing it to go up in flames and killing the brothers.
Since 2015, the priests, religious, lay faithful of Awka Catholic Diocese and families of the deceased, had all remained saddened by the gruesome death of their beloved.
Reacting immediately the news of the arrest filtered in at St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral, Awka, the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Excellency, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor, expressed gratitude to God for making it possible for the police to arrest the suspect, saying that the Diocese had cried for justice for too long.
Bishop Ezeokafor thanked the officers and men of the Nigeria police for a job well done, noting that he was happy to hear that one of the suspects had been arrested and detained.
The Catholic Bishop stated that the arrest had reminded the Diocese of a forgotten sorrow and sadness. ‘This is really sad. Something we have endured for too long. We have tried to forget the sad news. It is something we will not like to remember. We lost one of our finest priests gruesomely.
‘The Diocese will not take it lightly. We will not rest until justice is served. I call on the police to ensure that the suspect is charged to court without further delay. We are seriously interested in this matter,’ he said.
The visibly sad Bishop Ezeokafor urged the police to carry out thorough investigations and ensure that the suspect and his accomplices did not go unpunished, saying that the Diocese would not rest until the culprits were arrested and tried, adding that giving the suspects the punishment they deserved would serve as a deterrent to others.
‘We all are crying out for justice. Let him tell us why they killed Rev. Fr. Ofonyelu. Let the police do their job. Let them extract vital information from him. He needs to tell us how many they are and how to get them,’ Bishop Ezeokafor said.
Corroborating the bishop, the President of Awka Catholic Diocesan Priests Fraternity (ACDPF), Very Rev. Fr. Peter Val Uzoezie, urged the security agents not to sweep the matter under the carpet, emphasizing that they were all watching to see the outcome of the investigation.
Following the arrest of the prime suspect, Anyaegbu, families of Ofonyelu have started raising alarm over the delay in charging him to court by the police.
Pa Christian Ofonyelu, father of the victims, had called for “real justice” over the killing of his children.
He has also through his lawyer, written a petition to the Ondo State Police Commissioner, seeking urgent intervention on the case.
Spokesperson for the police in Ondo, Femi Joseph, confirmed the arrest of the suspect, assuring that proper investigations would be done on the case.