“Enough is enough!”: Catholic Archbishop on Killing of 14 Youth in Nigerian State

Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of Nigeria's Owerri Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Owerri in Nigeria has appealed for an end to massacres in the West African nation, especially in Imo State following the July 17 killing of 14 young people who are said to have been coming from a marriage ceremony when they met their killers.

In a Friday, July 22 statement, Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji calls for a thorough investigation into the massacre that reportedly occurred in Awomama, a community in Oru East Local Government Area (LGA) of Imo State, Southeastern Nigeria.

“The Awomama massacre should not be swept under the carpet. That slaughter, no matter the reasons, is barbaric, offensive, and totally unacceptable. Enough is enough!” Archbishop Ugorji says.

He adds, “We call on the government to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation in order to unearth the perpetrators of the heinous crime and bring them to book. For public accountability in this matter is the only way to assuage public anger on the merciless killing and stop dangerous rumors.”

Nigerian security forces reportedly killed the 14 youths who were said to have accompanied a young man to the neighboring Awomama Community for a marriage ceremony.


It was reported that the suspected government operatives opened fire on the youths while they were returning from the marriage ceremony, killing 14 of them on the spot.

In the July 22 statement, Archbishop Ugorji says that the killing had caused public outrage. He adds that contradicting reports, some alleging that the murdered youths were criminals, had emerged.

“Our aim is not to delve into this web of contradictory narratives, but to unequivocally condemn this mindless blood-letting, and similar senseless killings, which have bedeviled Igbo society, especially Imo State in recent times,” the Nigerian Archbishop says.

He continues, “Our soil has been defiled by the abominable shedding of innocent blood. We are becoming a society that has no regard for the sanctity of human life and is ready to waste human life at the least provocation.”

“How many of our youths have been cut down in their prime?” the Catholic Archbishop poses.

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He adds, “No society can flourish or survive when her future leaders and productive sector of the population are mercilessly mowed down for mere suspicion. Like Abel's blood (Gen 4:10), the blood of many slaughtered youths in our land is crying to high heaven. Similarly, like the lamentations of Rachel at Ramah, the lamentations of mothers, who have lost their beloved ones at Awomama, are inconsolable.”

The Local Ordinary of Owerri Archdiocese decries what he refers to as “jungle justice” in the ways in which authorities in Nigeria deal with insecurity issues.

“Law and Order are not synonymous with jungle justice,” he says, and adds, “While no one should condone any form of banditry or lawlessness from any quarters, yet jungle justice and extra judicial killings cannot be a solution to the challenges of law and order.”

“Let us reiterate here that we condemn all killings from all quarters, whether private or public, whether by overzealous, trigger-happy security men or by paramilitary or cults groups. As moral agents, no one should clearly aim at taking away human life no matter the circumstances,” Archbishop Ugorji says in his July 22 statement. 

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.