New York—–With deep sense of sorrow and solidarity, Africans In America receive the news of the senseless tragedy (loss of about 28 lives and hundreds of severe injuries) at Uke town, Idemili South Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria on Saturday, November 2, 2013, after a peaceful night prayer vigil.
According to more authentic version of all various accounts of the incident, Catholic faithful had gathered at small Uke town to celebrate all night prayer called ‘Prayer Vigil’ which started late in the evening and ends very early in the morning.
This particular tragic incident took place at Holy Ghost Adoration Center of St. Dominic Catholic Church, Uke in Idemili South Local Government Area of the state; the prayer vigil started on Friday November 1, 2013 and ended Saturday morning (about 5.08 am), November 2, 2013.
According to reliable reports which include Directorate of Social Communications Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha – Nigeria, Vigil was usually held at the centre on every first Friday of the month. The crowd at the centre was unprecedented on this first Friday of November 2013 probably because it was the Solemnity of All Saints and a holy day of obligation for Catholic faithful.
According to other reliable reports, over 100,000 people attended the event. Also in attendance were Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, and few others.
According to Governor Obi himself, he was there on invitation of the host of the Ministry, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obinma had personally delivered a written invitation to him, requesting that he attend the All Saints night prayers (November 1, 2013 being All Saints Day). In the governor’s entourage were the national chairman of his party, Sir Victor Umeh, governor’s elder sister my elder sister, Rev. Sr. Martina Obi, and about half of the governor’s security details.
Continuing, the governor stated;
“It is worth-mentioning that when I was called upon by the Priest to speak as the Governor of the State at about 12 midnight when the mass ended, a group of people located in three different spots started chanting Ngige slogans and waving the brooms of All Progressives Congress (APC) and the pictures of Dr. Chris Ngige, the APC’s flag bearer in the November 16 Governorship election. It took up to 20 minutes for the priest to calm them down.”
“I was surprised that some people would turn a prayer ground into a campaign venue.
“In my remarks, which lasted no more than five minutes, I promised to sponsor twenty indigent people from among the faithful on pilgrimage, provide access road to the premises and urged all present to pray for Anambra State and Nigeria.
“The Presiding priest and all present can testify to this, and it is on tape.
“I left the Adoration premises at about 3:00am on Saturday with the persons who came with me and arrived my Lodge at 3:30am only to be told after my broadcast,later in the morning where I renamed the Anambra State University (ANSU) to Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu University that a stampede occurred at the place where I had left three hours previously. I quickly cancelled all my engagements on Saturday and Sunday and started visiting relevant places to get first-hand information on the tragedy.
According to reports, the governor and his team left the crusade venue at about 3.00 a. m. The crusade event closed at about 5:08 a. m.
At the end of the event people started trouping out of the event compound to go home. This is where there are various versions.
1.Some claim that large worshipers leaving the center saw fire and started stampeding for safety resulting in so many deaths and injuries.
2.Another version had it that some people bent on causing mischief threw fire works in the air which exploded causing worshippers to stampede which result in so many deaths and injuries.
3.Another version claimed that political opponents of Governor Peter Obi upon learning that the governor was there went to the location to disrupt the event and cause mayhem.
The bottom lines are the tragic results which were loss of many lives and lots of injuries.
Anambra Politicians Visit the Prayer Worship Regularly to Campaign
According to International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, an NGO based and very active in Anambra State;
“The Catholic Adoration Ministry at Uke became popular of late and started attracting very large crowd of devotees who go in search of spiritual and physical solutions to social challenges facing their lives. Among devotees and visitors are politicians of various political parties who use such holy periods to canvass for support and votes. The governorship candidates of APC, Labour and APGA have visited the scene recently and made several promises including tarring the entrance road, tackling the gully menace near the Holy Ground and provision of vehicles to convey devotees from far distances during Adoration days and hours.
“While Dr. Chris Ngige and his APC reportedly fulfilled their recent promise of grading the entrance road to the Adoration Ground, the camp of Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah and his Labour reportedly took charge of providing some vehicles to convey devotees from far distances to the Holy Ministry. The camp of Governor Peter Obi and his Party have reportedly promised to tar the entrance road and tackle the gully menace threatening the Adoration Ground before the end of the Governor’s tenure by first quarter of 2014. Cash donations and other material promises have also been reportedly offered or made to the Ministry by some politicians.
“It is shocking and sad to note that some politicians have formed habits of sending and stationing their hatchet men on the Adoration Ground to disrupt their opponents’ successful participation in the Prayers’ session either by voice or physical disruptions. The mammoth crowd that graced the stampeded prayer session is dotted with suspicion of “menacing rented crowd” possibly imported by some politicians to create such homicidal atmosphere.
Reactions of Some Major Political Candidates Very Suspicious:
We examined the reactions and statements of 3 major candidates in the upcoming Anambra State Governorship election scheduled to take place in about 2 weeks.
Reactions of some of them are very suspicious, to say the least. And here they are:
Willie Obiano Campaign Organization of APGA:
Reacting to the event, Willie Obiano Campaign Organization released the following statement;
APGA’s gubernatorial candidate for the November 16, 2013 governorship election in Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has condoled the families who lost loved ones in the stampede that took place Friday night at the Adoration Ground of the St. Dominic Catholic Church, Uke in Idemili Local Government Area of the state. 16 worshippers allegedly met their untimely death following a stampede caused by an indiscriminate firing of bangers into the air at the venue by a group of youths suspected to be ardent fans of one of the gubernatorial candidates in the state.
Describing the incident as “unfortunate and depressing,” Chief Obiano wondered why politics in the state should degenerate to a level where worshippers no longer feel safe to worship their God in a sacred place as an Adoration Ground.
He implored the bereaved families to take heart assuring them that his thoughts and those of his family are with them in this moment of grief. “I pray the Almighty God to console you and give you the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss. God bless you now and always,” Chief Obiano stated.
The APGA flag-bearer however urged his fellow contestants to eschew the current politics of bitterness and acrimony in the state and embrace civilized practices that would create room for a peaceful conduct of the coming election in the state.
APC STAGED A MASSACRE AT UKE AFTER GOV OBI LEFT THE GROUND – Peter Obi's Aide
An eye witness said trouble started shortly after the event, when group of people behaving like paid agents started shouting “Fire’ Fire, Fire,” which immediately sent people scampering to safety.
It is believed among the crusaders that the commotion was deliberately organized by some people who learnt Gov. Peter Obi would visit the place. However, the lucky Governor had already left the venue quietly without them knowing.
Casualties were many because the number of crusaders tripled to over 100,000 because the day was All Saints’ Day and the first day of the Month, when so many people usually take advantage to pray for the new month.
Senator Christopher Ngige, (aka, Senator Chris Ngige)
Reacting to the event, APC governorship candidate Ngige was said to have release the following;
Ndi be anyi aru emee! – Senator Chris Ngige
This is very painful! May their souls rest in peace! Peter Obi, Obiano, and Victor Umeh waste 15 Anambra souls through executive recklessness and political wickedness. Reports reaching me have it that the APGA campaign train, last night went to the Adoration Ground at Ukeh and induced stampede as Obi's goons charged at worshipers who booed at them for campaigning at the Holy ground. The priest in charge, Ebube Mmuo Nso had told Obi that the people already knew whom to vote for so should be left alone. Unfortunately, in sheer act of wickedness, Obi's goons charged at the crowd who booed at them and induced stampede which led to the untimely death of 15 persons including women and children while wounding many more.
Why would the APGA government politicize everything? No one can buy the grace of God. No one can bribe the Holy Spirit. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost loved ones in this unfortunate incident. God will console you. God will wipe away your tears. I call upon politicians to refrain from playing politics with the lives of the people. No Anambra citizen is expendable. No Anambra citizen should be sacrificed. Religion should be approached with sincerity and humility. God cannot be deceived; God cannot be outsmarted; the Holy Spirit cannot be bribed.
My people , ndonu! Chukwu ga-eficha unu anya mmiri!
Ubah Condoles Uke People for Obiano’s “Night Vigil Tragedy”; asks FG to probe the Disaster
Reacting to the event, LP governorship candidate Mr. Ifeanyi Ubah, (aka, Dr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah) was said to have release the following;
Dr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah, the Labour Party candidate in the Anambra state elections has condoled Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha and the people of Uke, especially the Catholic church there, whose members must have formed the majority of persons who were adoring God Almighty in a night vigil before the All Progressive Grand Alliance party visited them with the may-hem that left about 30 worshipers dead and stunned the entire Anambra state, Nigeria and indeed the world at large. Dr. Ubah is the Labour Party (LP) flag-bearer for the Anambra state gubernatorial elections. The out-going Aanmbra Governor Peter Obi had gone to the Uke vigil ground to campaign for his godson Willie Boy Obiano and the gunshots of their security details either killed or caused a stampede or both which resulted in the truly avoidable deaths of innocent citizens.
Dr. Ubah who described the deaths as “horrendous” said that the tragedy was heightened simply because it was totally avoidable – if only the worshipers were allowed to hold their night vigil in peace. Instead, the Friday vigil at Uke was forced to become a campaign ground – even at an “ungodly” hour for politics. People who came together to pray were being forced to listen to party political campaign.
Ubah said that “all people of good conscience and goodwill must condemn this tragedy at Uke where people who had gone to seek the face of God, and probably pray for Anambra state and Nigeria, were visited with death just because the APGA party, which was re-elected in Anambra state four years ago decided last Friday to change its style of giving death by slow motion through bad governance, to death on the fast lane – resulting in this tragedy of great proportions. According to reports, disaster was far from the vigil grounds at Uke until the out-going Governor Peter Obi and the party’s flag-bearer for this month’s gubernatorial election in Anambra state, Mr. Tony Nwoye arrived there. As though nothing is sacred anymore, they began to replace the word of God in the vigil with their insensitive, ridiculous and blundering politics.
Ubah said that the recriminations and varying reports between eye witnesses and APGA’s spokesmen would not be enough to throw light on this atrocity. He said: “This is why I am calling on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency institute a Judicial Panel to ascertain and punish whoever caused the deaths of those innocent Anambrarians. This matter must not be swept under the carpet. I will not allow it but I will fight to see that justice is done and the deaths of the innocent worshipers of the Almighty God in Uke is properly looked into, the guilty punished and due compensation must be paid to the families of the deceased. The lives of Anambra peope will never again be snuffed out with no questions asked and the merchants of death will never again be allowed to go unpunished.
According to Ubah, if over 30 worshipers died on the spot and many more could have died in the hospitals or in the quiet of their homes, then the fatality figure would surely be more than 50.
Dr. Ubah called the fatality number truly “horrendous”. He urged all Nigerians to join him in condemning “church politics”, but most especially he called on the Federal Government to “as a matter of urgency set up a panel to probe the may-hem, determine its cause, the actual number of those that died, punish those responsible for the deaths, and compensate the families of the bereaved. Anambra’s Governor Obi lacks the moral standing to probe the mayhem because he cannot be a judge in his own case; he and his godson Willie Boy Obiano are the accused persons here, and in this case where dozens of human lives are involved, there must be no sacred cows ” Ubah concluded.
As organization following and monitoring developments in Anambra State, the reactions of the major candidates for upcoming governorship election are quite revealing at least.
Both Senator Christopher Ngige, (aka, Senator Chris Ngige) of APC and Mr. Ifeanyi Uba (aka, Dr. Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah) of LP blamed Anambra State governor Peter Obi and his party candidate for attending the night prayer vigil, even though they had visited the event in the past to campaign without any disturbance and incident.
Ngige claimed that the priest in-charge had already told the people to vote for him and blamed the death on the current governor and his opponent for going to the event to campaign.
Mr. Uba in his reaction poured long list of anger on the state governor for going to the prayer event to campaign, while calling on federal government to investigate.
The position of Africans In America is direct and un-ambiguous: what happened at Uke which resulted in so many deaths of religious worshippers are very serious crimes; all those associated with those crimes MUST BE FISHED-OUT through thorough clinical investigation and be brought to book.
All human intelligence, technological intelligence, high-tech satellite intelligence MUST be deployed to FISH-OUT the foot soldiers on the site of the prayer vigil compound and as well as their sponsors. This sort of clever mass-murder of innocent people must no longer be condoned in Anambra State.
If need be, Nigeria governments must tap on numerous bilateral security agreements with more advances western nations in efforts to identify all the culprits in these mass-murders.
No one will orchestrate this sort of mass-murder and cleverly explain it away as politics.
Enough of senseless shedding of innocent blood and lives of people of Anambra State in the name of politics.
With wild accusations that Anambra State Governor Peter Obi went to the Uke Vigil to campaign and therefore was responsible for death of over 28 people and hundreds of injuries at the Uke Vigil; and since statements of the governor and his deliberate ambushing was caught on tape, this is one case against the innocent people of Anambra State that must not be covered-up.
Are deliberately passing false and mis-leading information to the public not crime in Nigeria?
These are not POLITICS; those are ‘SATAN’s HELL POLITICS’
Finally, the authorities in Anambra State must come up with very clear and strict policy and guidelines for events that attract very large crowd anywhere in the state. Issues of adequate security personnel, regular and emergency exits, crowd control methods and mechanisms, safety and sanitary environmental issues must be addressed.