Anambra family weeps as church declares slain four daughters martyrs
From GEOFFREY ANYANWU, Awka
Wednesday April 11 , 2012
• The Obiukwus in a photograph with Senator Ngige, Archbishop Okeke, Gov. Obi and wife, Margaret
It was another day of uncontrollable tears in the sleepy town of Awka-Etiti in Idemili South Local Government of Anambra State, when the family of Sir Emmanuel Obiukwu and St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Awka-Etiti organized a funeral mass for the four daughters of Sir and Lady Obiukwu who were among the worshippers killed on last Christmas Day at St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madala Suleja by the Boko Haram sect.
The St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Awka-Etiti venue of the Mass was filled to capacity with the parishioners, state government officials led by Governor Peter Obi and wife, Margaret, and the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chinwe Nwebili, the traditional institution led by the traditional ruler of Awka-Etiti and friends and well-wishers of the Obiukwus.
Also conspicuous at the Mass celebrated by the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke was the former governor of the state and Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, Dr. Chris Ngige.
Archbishop Okeke in his homily urged the family of the slain girls and the entire people not to over-mourn as the girls died in defense of their faith in God and as martyrs, describing them as the “martyrs for peace and progress in Nigeria.”
While urging the people not to carry animosity against other tribes because of what happened, the clergyman called on the presidency to ensure they protect the lives and property of Nigerians anywhere in the country, just as “people should be made to face the consequences of their actions.”
“Awka-Etiti has joined in the league of those that have martyrs. You should build a structure in their memory. I suggest you build an Obiukwu Sisters Memorial Garden where people could come and pray and I tell you if anyone comes there with a problem and pray, the blood of these martyrs would see that person through,” the archbishop said.
The grief and tears in the hearts and faces of the congregation were so much that even the parents of the slain girls and their remaining two children, a boy and a girl, who apparently had lost all tears in their eyes were moved to consoling people, admonishing them that the will of God could not be challenged.
The four Obiukwu daughters who were proclaimed martyrs by the Archbishop at the Mass were Chioma Lauritta, 23; Ifeoma Linderin and her twin, Uche Queenderlin, 16, and Chidimma Cynthia, 13. Lauritta who was a Higher National Diploma holder in Business Administration and the first child of Sir and Lady Obiukwu was born on December 23, 1988 in Kano.
She was described by the parents as a healthy, vibrant and lovely girl. In the words of Sir Obiukwu, “Chioma was a reserved person, honest and of high integrity. She always attended to her sisters’ needs, especially in tutorial aids. She will be missed greatly, especially her intelligent contributions in the affairs of the family.”
Ifeoma and Uche were twin girls born on October 27, 1995 at Suleja and were their mother’s pet from birth. The twins who were described as lovely and cheerful girls that enjoyed people’s company greatly were students of Queens’ Science School, Suleja until the unfortunate calamity that took their lives.
Born on August 8, 1997 at Suleja, Cynthia was the last child of the family and was a student of Harmony Secondary School, Madalla before her unfortunate death. Her father described her as “a very religious child and always attended Mass and helped in the cleaning of the church.
She had dreamt of becoming a Reverend Sister. As the baby of the house she will be missed by the entire household.
Ironically, Sir Obiukwu left Kano after having his second child to settle in Abuja due to the problems in that city then and in Suleja he fell victim to the same issue he thought he had ran away from.
He said, “I left Kano because of the problems then and came back to Abuja to hide and do my business, but Hausa people came and brought me outside from where I hid and exposed me to the world. From what you saw in the pictures I lost four children, first child, twins and my last child. I believe that is how God wants it to be; so, do not cry for me, but cry for who created them and took them back.”
The only surviving daughter of the Obiukwus, Chiamaka who is a fourth year medical student of Madona University, gave Daily Sun the graphic details of how she lost her siblings.
“After mass we were all coming out together, they were ahead of my mum and I. Then we saw this car coming, I was like this car is so fast is he not obeying the rules to slow down, people were coming out that was after the mass. It was not up to a second I said it the next thing every where was dark and there was smoke it was like I am on fire or something, standing up I discovered that my cloth were no longer on my body.
“I couldn’t move and when I was able to move I left that arena not up to like a second my mum came up I don’t know where she came out from, she has this sore like a deep wound on her chest. I asked her, where is my sisters? She said she has not seen them, I said okay, stay let me go back. I went back and discovered that there was nobody and since she is not strong enough I have to go back again to hold her then later my dad came out, I don’t know where he came out from to look for my sisters, I never went back to the church; so, my Dad and my younger brother went to search for them, there were no trace of their bodies or corpses.
“It has not been easy any way, but I know this is one of my challenges, and I have an exam to write and if I should just allow this to weigh me down I will just die. So, I have to encourage myself for the exam I am supposed to write so I have to go back to school and after the exam that’s when it occurred to me that I don’t have sisters again, is just me and my brother. In school I was not really feeling it, but when I came back home I knew it was a reality. It has not been easy though, but I know God will help me.”
Obi announced full scholarship for the remaining two children of the Obiukwus, saying, “the two remaining children will become government property.”
He also announced a donation of N2 million to parents of the slain girls.
Senator Ngige announced a personal donation of N500, 000 for the project and visited Sir Obiukwu at home where he gave them money to take care of hospital expenses.