Gunmen attacked a Pentecostal church at Inen Ikot Esse village in OrukAnam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State and shot one of the church elders. Members of the church scampered in different directions during the Sunday morning attack.
The gunmen, believed to be cultists, numbering 10, invaded the church at 7.05am and went straight to the vestry where church officers were praying before commencement of service. A witness, Mr. Sunday Ibanga, said the elder was accosted and shot several times in the head. According to Ibanga, the gunmen left the victim in a pool of blood. He added that other members of the church were forced to lie down while others fled as the assailants were shooting sporadically on the church premises. Ibanga said the attack occurred as the new pastor posted to the church assumed duty the same Sunday.
Speaking at the hospital yesterday, the victim’s wife, identified simply as Mrs. Iniobong, said her husband left for church early in the morning to attend to his duties, leaving her and the children at home to join him later for Sunday service. Iniobong said while she was preparing to go to church, she heard screaming outside their compound from people who came to inform her that her husband had been shot in the church vestry during prayers.
She said: “When I heard that my husband had been shot, I summoned courage and rushed to the church just to carry his body for burial. But I met policemen helping me to carry my husband to hospital for first aid before the main treatment in this hospital.
“Since yesterday, my husband is surviving through oxygen here in the Emergency Ward. We need money to pay for various tests before surgery to remove the bullets in his head.” The woman said the incident occurred while there was negotiation between Debam and Iceland rival cult confraternities in the area to end protracted hostilities which had disrupted normal activities in the community.
She added: “One volunteer told me that he had visited the camp of the two cult groups and they all denied their roles in the incident. So, I don’t know where the gunmen came from to shoot my husband.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Odiko Mcdon, said the perpetrators of the crime would soon be arrested to face the wrath of the law. He said: “I can confirm the incident at Inen Ikot Esse in OrukAnam Local Government Area.
It is unfortunate that such an incident happened on the church premises. It was the police who rushed the victim to hospital for treatment. “The Commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, condemns the dastardly act and he has resolved to stem the tide of cultism in whatever form. “However, deep investigation is ongoing to ensure that the perpetrators of such dastardly act face the wrath of the law. I assure you that they would be brought to book in no distant time.”