World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has condemned the attack that occurred on New Year’s Day at the Rivers church in Omuku town, southern Nigeria.
The attck which took the lives of at least 16 people by gunmen who opened fire after a New Year’s Day church service, according to police reports. The group had attended a midnight service before they were ambushed in the early hours of Monday.
“People who were worshipping, starting anew, celebrating and reflecting on a new year, have lost their lives,” said Tveit. “We condemn this senseless violence. Let us strengthen our resolution to pursue peace and justice for all, dignity for all, the freedom to worship safely for all.”
Tveit and the WCC fellowship held those who lost loved ones in prayer. “We mourn for the families of the victims, and for the church family that lost so much so quickly,” he said. “God, we seek your mercy.”
Meanwhile the Rivers State government has placed a reward of N200 million to track the perpetrators who took the lives of both women and children, at the place of worship on New Year cross-over in Omoku.
Troubled Omoku, Headquarters of Ogba-Egbema/Ndoni council area, recently started enjoying peace after several months of cult-related violence.
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike has placed a bounty to trace the gunmen, who carried out the attack.
The Governor, in reaction to the attack, promised to reward anyone who can identify the perpetrators with the sum of N200 million.
Wike said this on Tuesday during a visit to the community, alongside heads of security agencies in the state. He assured the victims of government’s support and also vowed to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
One of the victims of the attack, who lost her husband and child in the attack told the Governor that the hoodlums stormed her home on the day of the attack and suddenly started shooting anyone in sight.
A combined team of the army, the Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) have since swung into action to ensure arrest the suspects behind the attack.
The senator representing Rivers South-East, Sen. Magnus Abe, has described the killing in the early hours of the New Year day as barbaric and senseless.
A statement by his media aide, Mr Parry Benson, on Tuesday said Abe expressed worries over the re-emergence of violence and crime in the area.
He said it was needless for humans to take the lives others.
“The incident should be condemned by every right thinking Rivers man and woman.
“Rivers communities should not be allowed to become haven for blood thirsty hoodlums,’’ he said.
The senator urged the Nyesom-Wike-led government to assist security agencies with the needed tools to tackle the security challenges bedevilling the state.
“The killing in Omoku is an indication that all is not well, the state government should assist security agencies with the needed tools to tackle these rising state of insecurity.
“The state government must drastically re-engineer the security architecture of the state, and provide funding to fight crime to sop this endless waste of human lives,’’ he said.
*World Council of Churches (WCC)/Smart9Ja /NAN