Gunmen invade church during Christmas service, kill three worshippers in Ebonyi

Tragedy struck on Sunday night at a Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church Nkweagu, Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State as unknown gunmen invaded and killed three parishioners.

The unknown gunmen invaded the church premises during vigil Mass to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and shot a parishioner said to be a staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, to death.

The Point reliably gathered that while escaping the scene, the hoodlums also killed two church guards.

The guards were members of a group known as Man of Order and Discipline (MOD) for obstructing their movement and asking for retrieval of usual pass given to vehicles, tricycle and motorcycle owners while making their way into the premises.

The MOD members were said to be keeping watch at the church gate and that they were not aware of the incident inside considering the distance, before they met their sudden death in active service for God.

The Chancellor of Catholic Diocese in Abakaliki, Rev Fr Mathew Opoke confirmed the incident while celebrating Christmas Mass at St Thomas Chapel Mile 50 Abakaliki and admonished people to embrace Christ who is reason for the season and shun vices.

According to the Chancellor, the priest in charge of the parish, Rev Fr John Paul Eselu phoned him around 1:00am, narrating the ordeal.

“Father Eselu in charge of Immaculate Conception Catholic church Nkweagu called me around 1:00am today and broke a bad news to me. Father reported that gunmen invaded his parish during Christmas vigil Mass and killed a very big personality. They came in with Keke just like some other parishioners, so having achieved their aim, they were going out when MOD members at the gate requested to retrieve the gate pass but angrily, they shot two of them down.

“Father told me that having killed the MOD members, the armed robbers’ tricycle could no longer start and they abandoned it there and fled on foot, While you are planning how to enjoy the Christmas, others are planning how to kill and perpetuate one evil or the other,” Opoke explained.

While urging members of the congregation to be security conscious, the cleric said, “Please, as you merry, beware of evil people, I will not like to hear any bad story about any of you. I pray the grace of God upon all for the full knowledge of Christ who is the reason for the season.”

According to the Diocesan Chancellor, the armed robbers also abandoned their fully loaded two guns identified as AK 49 inside the abandoned tricycle.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach the state Commissioner of Police, Augustina Ogbodo for comments at the time of this report were not successful.