Four more victims of the Okene church shootings were buried yesterday.
But the survivors are still struggling to free themselves from the hangover of the horror, which many of them are reliving.
The gunmen, who stormed the Deeper Life Bible Church on Monday, used torchlights to identify victims writhing in pains before shooting them to death, The Nation learnt yesterday.
“They put off the light and started shooting kakakakaa,” an eyewitness said.
Eleven of the 17 church members confirmed dead have so far been buried.
Four were buried on Tuesday, three on Wednesday and four yesterday.
Among the dead were a Physics teacher and the former Head of Department of Preliminary Studies at the Kogi State Polytechnic, Pastor Emmanuel Lambe.
The late Lambe, 57, hailed from Offa, Kwara State. He was the Pastor-in-Charge of all Deeper Life churches in Adavi Local Government Area, Kogi State.
Adults who died in the attack included Mrs Obada Alice, Mr Joshua Sule, Mrs Toyin Adurewa, Mrs Imagejor Ruth, Mrs Yusuf Grace, Mrs Isaiah Yusuf, Mrs Jimoh Martha, Mrs Ibrahim Mary, Mr James Ibrahim and Aminat Dauda.
The youths are: Precious Dayo, Ismaila Jana, Isiayaka Grace, Matthew Yusuf, Lydia Michael and a little girl, Maimunatu who came with her sister, Mrs Johnson, to the church for the first time.
A member of the church and Medical Director of Dosam Clinic and Maternity, Chaplain Colonel Samuel Nyamida, said members from three branches had congregated at the church for a Bible Study when the gunmen struck.
Nyamida lost a 17 years old cousin Master Ismaila Jana.
One of his sons had a bullet brush on his neck.
The boy is said to be receiving treatment at the Federal Medical Centre, (FMC) Lokoja.
He said eight of his children, including his cousins, were in church on that fateful day.
One of his daughters, Joy, saw one of the gunmen.
One of the gunmen was said to have told the worshippers that “we are here to finish all of you!”
Nyamida, in tears, said: “We were on a Bible Study, our usual Bible Study every Monday. The service started around 6pm. So we commenced the other preambles before the General Overseer, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, will come on board via satellite.
“That is even what brought many of us together, if not we would have held our services at different locations. I was around. I took my children to the church. The pastor was ministering. I left there for the clinic.
“I was actually with a member of the church, who lost his wife. We always stay and move around the church to ensure that everything is safe.
“It was a call that made me to leave the church for the clinic. When this thing happened, I then said, ‘let me rush so that I can join the programme midway’. After picking what I wanted to go and give to this patient, I became very restless and weak. I just went in.
“I did not even take my bath. I put on another trousers. The top I wore since morning was still on me.
I was about to kick my car, the next thing I heard was the sound of gunshot ‘poropopopo, popo, popo pro.’
“I then said ‘where is this sound coming from?’ Then, I ran out, going towards the church because there is a generator there; this infinity, that used to make that kind of noise and even the community had complained about it.
“I thought it was the generator but I did not feel okay. I said, ‘let me move to that place’. While I was going, before I branched off the highway, I saw one of my daughters carrying my small baby on her back, I said ‘what happened?’’ One elderly woman was holding her stomach shouting in Ebira dialect’ ‘They shot my stomach, they shot my stomach.’
“I said ‘is it in the church?’ They said ‘yes.’ And about eight of my children were there. I just carried those two and that mama who was complaining of having been shot in the stomach. I rushed her to the clinic for medical attention.
“I went back immediately. ‘Do I go to the security men?’ I felt they would delay. But since my children were there I risked it. On getting there, everywhere was dark.
“The generator was on but there was no electricity supply. There was nobody. I saw cars parked. I ran inside and I was able to see dimly coming out of their hideouts. I used my handset torch to see people sprawling on the floor. “I shouted and some of them that ran away started coming back. The ones I could carry, I carried them and put them in the car and came to drop them in the hospital. I did not have enough workers to help me but, luckily, a friend called me and I said ‘come to my clinic and help me.’
“I ran back and picked some people again. It was then I met the soldiers. I said, ‘stop, stop, I am the one that is bereaved.’ They said okay let’s go. They said, ‘where is the place?’ I said ‘up there.’
“When we got there, we carried the injured to the Federal College of Education hospital and left the dead behind. The soldiers and police then took over the place before we were able to evacuate the bodies to the mortuary.”
Nyamuda added: “A pastor who lost his wife saw the gunmen.
“The pastor said he just felt like not sitting down where he normally sat. So, he decided to move. The pastor said when they came in and put off the light, he made to run outside, and one of the gunmen collided with him.
“He said he did not know how he escaped. He said he saw them and that when they came in, the next thing they did was to remove their guns and shouted ‘all of you kneel down.’ And he said ‘Ah, this people have come!’ then they pulled the wire and there was light out. The generator was still working when they started shooting, kakakakakaka at a close range.
“Everybody started running and falling over one another. They said the gunmen said, ‘We are here to finish all of you!’
“They (gunmen) were using torch light to check those who were not dead and then shooting to make sure they were dead.”
According to him, “Fifteen people died on the spot, two later died in the hospital, making 17 so far. As at yesterday, when I went to the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja, others were still being taken to the theatre to be operated upon. We don’t know the fate of about two of them now.”
His 14-year-old daughter and Junior Secondary School (JSS3) pupil narrated the incident this way: “I saw them entering the church. I only saw one. Immediately I saw the gun I was scared. I thought they were policemen.
“I ran out of the church. They were putting on black and one was putting on papa’s cap. When I saw the gun, I ran out of the church immediately because I was sitting at the back, close to the door. I ran out of the church before they switched off the light and started shooting.
“I was saying ‘if they were policemen, why should they be shooting inside the church?’ So, I didn’t even bother to go back, not until my sister called me to come and carry my brother while she went back and looked for the others. That was when I took my brother and we met our daddy on the way.”
Ebenezer Sumaila, 11, who lost his elder brother, said: “I did not see any of them, but when they started shooting, all of us lay on the floor. They would shoot and stop so that when people stood up they shot again so that they could kill many people. When I saw my uncle standing up and going home, I too stood up and followed him.”
Nyamuda blamed the incident on “hatred” and described the killing as “too barbaric”.
Nyamida said: “I begin to ask if these people were to wake up from the dead, can they face you with gun. They are not holding anything. So what brought that hatred? This is hatred to the core.
“These are people you never had a quarrel with. I still want to know if it is because of Christianity that you hate these people or there is any other matter. The killing is too barbaric.
On how to deter such gunmen in future, he said: “I feel government should be able to allow us to be armed because the rate at which the nation is going, it is not good.
“If they know we are armed it will not be easy for them to penetrate and even if they come we will know that it is battle for battle. But they met us helpless, killing these people even though women and children.”
He added: “We know it pleased the Lord to have done this and we take it as our fate. We embrace and rejoice over it that our brethren are being martyred for Christ. Thank God it was in the Bible Study, we thank God.
“Though it pains us a little the way they met us. Afterall we have people to emulate. We can boldly say that the pains those Christians before us went through we have tasted it too.”