The incident happened along the Benin-Ekpoma road in Edo state, as the bishop was returning from the 10-year anniversary of the diocese in Uromi.
Addressing reporters in Benin, capital of the state, Onaiyekan’s driver, who identified himself as Segun, narrated what transpired.
“We left Benin for Uromi and around 5pm – I think very close to Ehor – I saw a big pothole and decided to slow down the vehicle,” he said.
“I would have passed the spot with speed but because the cardinal was sleeping, I decided to slow down the vehicle so that he would not wake up.
“Suddenly, I saw three men came out of the palm tree plantation by the road side and started shooting at the vehicle. Drivers of 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 the vehicle and people started running 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 nothing happened to the cardinal or any of us in the vehicle.”
Commenting on the incident, Augustine Akubueze, Catholic archbishop of Benin, and Donatus Ogun, bishop of Uromi diocese, lamented over the high rate of insecurity in the country.
They appealed to the federal government to address the situation.
“We thank God that Cardinal Onaiyekan survived the attacks of some criminals elements last week on the Benin-Ekpoma Road. If something had happened to him, what would have been the story?” Akabueze asked
“We thank God that nothing happened and we are using this opportunity to appeal to Mr. President to provide adequate security for the citizens of Edo state.”
On his part, Bishop Ogun said, “What would have happened if the Cardinal was killed? It would have been sorrow and pains for us, considering that he 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 the residents of the state. We cannot continue to live in fear in our own land because of the activities of these criminals