Owo killings: Ondo govt, Catholic Church differ over causality figures

AKURE — GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and the Catholic Church, yesterday, differed over the causality figures recorded during the attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owa-Iuwa Street, Owo

While Akeredolu confirmed that 22 people died in the attack, Bishop Jude Arogundade said that 38 deaths were confirmed.

Also, They gathered that a three-year-old on admission at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, was still in shock as a result of the blast.

A nurse told them that the baby was still in shock, due to the sound of the explosion which occurred at the church.

Meanwhile, angry reactions continued to greet the Owo massacre, as the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres; General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye; Primate, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Reverend Henry Ndukuba, and the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, urged the Federal Government’s security agencies to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Akeredolu confirms 22 deaths, 56 injured

Akeredolu, in a statewide broadcast, said that 80 persons were involved in the terrorists attack.

He added that 52 survivors are on admission at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, St Louis Hospital, Owo, and the Owo General Hospital, as well as some private hospitals.

He, however, said the attack was an attempt to test the will of the people of the state and, indeed, the South-West.

His words: “The dastard act has the brazenly possible consequence of invitation to national anarchy. Yorubaland and Owo, in particular, have never been conquered before; and it will never happen.

“The site, that is, St. Francis Catholic Church, Owaluwa, Owo, presents a gory war-like scene. The Federal Medical Centre, Owo, the St. Louis Hospital, Owo, the General Hospital, Owo, as well as some private hospitals in Owo are filled with the injured, most of who are in critical conditions.

“The most unfortunate part is the lives of innocent children cut down in their prime, and some severely injured by the mindless attackers.

“At Owo, the anger is palpable. The tension is at an abrasive level, just as the urge for reprisals are high. Without doubt too, the ripple impact of this heinous act, as well as the understandably angry reaction across the state, could not have been different.

“I urge our people to be calm but remain vigilant. Do not take the law into your own hands. Leave the rest for government to shoulder. I have spoken to the heads of the security agencies. I can assure you that security operatives have been deployed to monitor and restore normalcy to Owo kingdom.

“I am particularly enthralled by the wonderful show of solidarity from my brothers across party divides, especially in the states. It is heartwarming that we all have found a common ground to confront these monsters.

“In this regard, I thank the former Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and the entire PDP family. To all others too numerous to mention, your show of love, encouragement and goodwill are not taken for granted. You have displayed compassion and demonstrated an appreciable level of brotherliness.

“In the same vein, I commend the medical teams of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, St. Louis Hospital, Owo, General Hospital, Owo and some private hospitals who showed love and participated in stabilising the victims in the various hospitals.

“We equally appreciate the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, and BEDC for their assistance. I convey our gratitude to volunteers who assisted in evacuating the victims and the dead to the hospitals and mortuaries respectively.”

Catholic Church confirms 38 deaths

Giving an update on the causality figures, Bishop Jude Arogundade said that 38 deaths have been confirmed.

Arogundade, who spoke in Akure, said: “We’ve counted 38 bodies and we are still tracing others.”

He said that efforts were still ongoing to trace those who took the bodies of their loved ones away without getting to the hospital.

Bishop Arogundade said: “People have been asking me about the figure of those who died. The figure we can account for presently is 38.

“But we know that many people were taken to private hospitals. Even some people came to take the bodies of their loved ones. We are trying to trace those people so that we can have a recount for all.

“But in the Catholic hospital which is Saint Louis Hospital in Owo and the Federal Medical Centre in Owo, we have 38 bodies.”

Mass burial

Meanwhile, They gathered that the deceased victims will be given mass burial.

A source at the Catholic Diocese disclosed that a mass burial will be given by the church only to the bodies that could not be identified.

He added that the date, time and location for the mass burial were yet to be fixed by the church.

The source said: “There are plans to give mass burial to those who lost their lives in the Sunday attack. The decision was taken due to the nature of their death. So, we have to bury them instead of them just lying in the morgue.

“Those that will be given mass burial are those whose bodies could not be identified by anyone.

“When necessary arrangements have been concluded, the church will notify the public on when the mass burial will be done.

“The church is willing to release corpses to families that want to claim them for burial which will be done after proper verification.”

We’ll fish out perpetrators, bring them to book —AGBEKOYA

The Agbekoya Farmers Society of Nigeria, yesterday, condemned the terrorist attack and vowed to fish out the perpetrators and bring them to book.

Speaking after an emergency meeting, the group said that the attack and killing of innocent citizens are evidence and signs that the government, at all levels, and security agencies in Nigeria have failed “woefully in their responsibilities to secure lives and property in this country.”

In a statement by its President and National Publicity Secretary, Chief Kamorudeen Okikiola and Chief Olatunji Bandele, the organization called on “President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the security sector of our dear nation, because no responsive and responsible government, anywhere in the world, will sit comfortably on the seat of power and continue to allow bandits and terrorists to massacre the citizens of the country without putting in place proper measures to stop these heinous crimes and even punish the perpetrators.”

Agbekoya, however, reiterated its commitment to “defend Yoruba land from the incursions of the criminal Fulani bandits and kidnappers.

“We also want to assure sons and daughters of Yoruba land of our resolve to fish out the perpetrators of Owo Catholic Church brutal killing of innocent Nigerians and bring them to book.”

Humanity under attack — Catholic Church

But the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, CSN, yesterday, vowed not to fold its arms and allow gunmen to kill worshippers, describing the attack on St. Francis Xavier church, Owo Ondo State as an attack on humanity.

CSN’s National Director, Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh, in an interview on Arise TV, said: “The Catholic church is not taking this as merely its matter, because the global view is that humanity is under attack. Unfortunately, we have found ourselves in this situation in Nigeria.

“So, we speak for humanity and condemn in totality this kind of act to anyone anywhere in the world.

“Humanity is deeply hurt and saddened by this type of thing. Not even in a war situation is it allowed because there are still some places referred to as sacred areas that if you can run to, you’re protected.

“But in this case, there is no war, no fight, no quarrel, and that people will just take it upon themselves to take the lives of unarmed women, children and worshippers is very sad. That is the real issue we should be discussing.”

UN scribe seeks arrest of perpetrators

Also condemning the attack which left scores of people dead, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, called on the authorities to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Guterres, in a statement by his spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said: “The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the heinous attack on the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, on June 5 that resulted in the death and injuries to scores of civilians as people gathered for the Pentecost service.

“The Secretary-General urges the Nigerian authorities to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

I’m unable to comprehend evil that motivates killings — Adeboye

Frowning at the attack, Pastor Adeboye through his verified Facebook page, said: “My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered from this gruesome attack. I am unable to grasp the evil that motivates one human being to deliberately take the life of another. Every soul counts before God, and I know that He is greatly displeased with this wickedness.

“May we never have cause to send such greetings again and may Nigeria never know such bloodshed again.”

Nigeria sliding into anarchy — Anglican primate

In his remarks, Primate of the Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Henry Ndukuba, warned that Nigeria is slowly sliding into anarchy.

Ndukuba, who condemned the attack on Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owa-Luwa Street, Owo Local Government Area, Ondo State, said: “One thing we must get clear is that Nigeria is slowly gliding and sliding into anarchy.

“We’re in a situation in which such things happen and nobody is arrested, nothing is done, and nobody is brought to book.

“We do not encourage labelling any group of people as being evil but our system. Nigeria is a nation with rule, government, leadership, law, and constitution, and we are demanding that our leaders must rise up to the occasion to secure the lives and property of citizens in Nigeria. Nobody has the right to be killed in the place of his or her worship.”

We’re slipping towards a very calamitous precipice —NLC

On its part, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, expressed outrage over Sunday’s massacre just as it urged the Federal and state governments to do everything possible to hunt the perpetrators of the attack.

NLC, in a statement, by its Acting President, Amechi Asugwuni, said: “It was with unimaginable shock and alarm that we received the news of the gruesome, barbaric and satanic massacre of scores of worshippers on Sunday, June 5, 2022, at Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, in Ondo State where many people were killed and several others sustained terrible bodily injuries. This is indeed one attack too many.”

Declare a day of national mourning, Onitiri advises FG

Similarly, a socio-political activist and critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, has urged the Federal Government to declare one day of national mourning to honour those who died or were wounded in Owo, Ondo State bloodbath.

Onitiri, in a statement, said: “The day they chose to attack Christians was Pentecost day which was very important in the Christendom when Jesus Christ’s disciples received the Holy Spirit.

“This devilish act must not go unpunished. The attackers must be tracked down and must face the full weight of the law. They should never escape punishment.”

WHO pledges support for Ondo over terror attack

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation, WHO, yesterday, pledged to offer relevant support to the Ondo State government to help it recover from the terror attack at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo.

The WHO Country Representative and Head of Mission in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo said this when he led his team to visit Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to commiserate with him over the incident.

Dr Mulombo said: “I have been engaged in many response emergencies and I can count on my fingers the number of times I saw a Governor like that in the field going around, making sure things are right. I’m very encouraged and impressed.

“The World Health Organisation is committed to supporting your state to respond to all hazards and emergencies including following up on such unfortunate incidents.

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