Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu yesterday said federal government’s conclusion that the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) was responsible for last Sunday’s attack at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, which claimed 40 lives, was too hasty.
Also yesterday, the Ondo State Police Command denied speculations that the terrorists that attacked the Catholic Church had been arrested.
The National Security Council, made up of the President, the Vice President, as well as the heads of all the defence, security and intelligence agencies in the country, had last Thursday identified ISWAP as the terror group responsible for the bloody attack in Owo.
But Akeredolu, who spoke during a zoom interaction with a Swiss-based Christian Human Rights Organisation, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), said, “The statement is too hasty. I take their conclusion with a pinch of salt. ISWAP doesn’t hide their attacks. If they had done it, they would have owned up. We are yet to know their identity and our security people are still on their trail.”
The governor, who said the attack was a crime against humanity, stressed that the South-west region had been a peace haven before the horrific attack.
He said despite the attack on the psyche of the people, the people of the state remained indomitable and ready to fight insecurity.
Akeredolu said: “My government is determined to help the victims of the attack, particularly those who lost their loved ones and those on admission in the hospital.
“We are helping the victims of the attack, including those who lost their loved ones and those who are in the hospitals. We also have people who have offered the state government some assistance. Some people have donated to the Catholic Church.”
Akeredolu also reiterated the call for state police, noting that the time for it was now.
He emphasised that the present security architecture in the country could not provide adequate security for lives and property.
“A single police command cannot guarantee safety in this country. We must have state police now. Amotekun suffers a lot of limitations in getting all the equipment needed to fight these criminals,” he lamented.
The governor commended the international community for their prompt reactions on the killings in Owo, saying it was unprecedented.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, while briefing State House Correspondents last Thursday, after the National Security Council meeting in Abuja, identified ISWAP as responsible for the Owo attack.
The minister said security agencies, particularly the police, had been directed to apprehend the perpetrators, adding that the attack has no ethnic-religious connection.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Police Command has denied arresting the attackers of St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo.
There were speculations last Thursday the terrorists had been arrested by a joint team of the Nigerian Army, Amotekun Corps and other security agencies, as well as the local hunters.
The report said the suspects were taken to the palace of Olowo and that when people heard about the news, they started besieging the palace to catch a glimpse of the suspects.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs Funmilayo Odunlami, said the report was untrue, noting that nobody had been arrested in connection with the attack.
She said, “There is nothing like that. We have called the police divisions there and they said there was nothing like that. We called the Olowo of Owo, he said he was not aware of any arrest. So, it is the handiwork of some social media but it is just rumour.”
Also, the Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, denied the report, saying no suspect was arrested and taken to the palace.
The monarch told THISDAY on telephone, “They said some people were arrested in the bush by the security but said they were not sure that the suspects were the ones that carried out the attack.
“The report was not true; people have been trooping to the palace to see them but Olowo has addressed them that no suspect was brought to the palace.”
Culled from THISDAY