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DailyTrust Newspaper is reporting that the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, was attacked by gunmen along the Benin-Ekpoma road in Edo State.
The incident took place while the Cardinal was returning from Benin, where he attended the 10-years anniversary of the enthronement of the bishop, Augustine Akubueze.
Speaking, the driver to Onaiyekan, who simply identified himself as Segun, said, the attack occurred along the Benin-Ekpoma road close to Ehor at about 5.00pm last Friday.
He said: “We left Benin for Uromi and at about 5.00pm on the fateful day, I think very close to Ehor, I saw a big pothole and decided to slow down the vehicle. I would have passed the spot with speed but because the cardinal was sleeping, I decided to slow down the vehicle so that he won’t wake up. Suddenly, three men came out of the palm tree plantation by the road side and started shooting at the vehicle. I looked ahead of me and saw that two of them were firing from a distance at the vehicle and I looked behind me; another one was firing at the vehicle from behind so I decided to use reverse gear. Drivers of the other vehicles who saw me coming with reverse started clearing off the road and when I got to a safe distance I decided to stop and people started running towards us to see what had happened. It was then we realised that the bullets shattered the left passenger window glass and made huge holes on the panel of the door. We just thank God that nothing happened to the cardinal or any of us in the vehicle”.
Efforts to reach the Cardinal for comments on the issue proved abortive, but the Catholic Archbishop of Benin City, Dr. Augustine Akubueze and the Catholic Bishop of Uromi Diocese, Dr. Donatus Ogun, confirmed the incident.
They lamented the attack and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle what they called growing attacks by hoodlums in Edo State.
“We thank God that Cardinal Onaiyekan survived the attacks by some criminal elements last week on the Benin-Ekpoma road. If something had happened to him, what would have been the story? We thank God nothing happened and we are using this opportunity to appeal to the president to provide adequate security to the people of Edo State,” Akubueze said.
The catholic archbishop stressed that the responsibility of a government is to secure its people.
“What we are asking for is not too much. If there is no security of lives and property, no investment or meaningful economic development can take place in the state and the nation at large. We need security and we are demanding that from our government,” he said.
Bishop Ogun, on his part, said “what would have happened if the gunmen had succeeded? It would have been a sad development, considering that the Cardinal was coming to attend the 10th anniversary of the creation of Uromi Diocese. We thank God he came out unhurt. We need adequate security to protect the lives and property of residents of the state. We cannot continue to live in fear in our own land because of the activities of these criminals”.
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