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Sultan, Archbishop of Canterbury Condemn Terrorists Attack on Owo Church, Say It’s Crime against Humanity

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•Osinbajo, northern governors, Tinubu, Fayemi, Diri, Makinde, Amosun commiserate with Akeredolu, Olowo, NGF donates N50m to Catholic diocese

Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Olawale Ajimotokan, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja, Fidelis David in Akure, Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and Olusegun Samuel in Yenagoa

Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, yesterday, joined the growing number of individuals and groups that have condemned Sunday’s heinous attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State. They described the massacre of over 50 worshippers at the church during Sunday service as a crime against humanity and a grievous and inexplicable sin.

The Nigeria Police, yesterday, said they had launched a manhunt for the killers. The police confirmed that the terrorists used AK 47 rifles and explosives in the attack on the church.

The vice president, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, and presidential aspirant and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, commiserated with the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the people of the state, and the Catholic Diocese over the attack.

Reacting to the attack, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) asked the federal government to wake up from its slumber and mobilise security agencies to tackle criminal elements causing mayhem across the country head-on.

An explosion rocked the Catholic Church on Sunday, which was immediately followed by sporadic shootings by gunmen suspected to be terrorists. Over 50 worshippers and passers-by died in the incident, with many more injured.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in his verified Twitter handle, “The massacre of worshippers – men, women and children – during a Mass in South-west Nigeria was an act of pure evil and a profound offence to God. My prayers are with all affected by this barbaric attack. I continue to pray for the nation of Nigeria.”

The Sultan of Sokoto’s condemnation of the attack was contained in a statement issued yesterday by the NSCIA Director of Administration, Zubairu Haruna Usman-Ugwu.

The statement reiterated the Islamic council’s absolute solidarity with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Catholic community and the government and people of Ondo State. The Sultan also commiserated with the families of the victims of the attack, “at this time of immeasurable agony and distress.”

He tasked all peoples of faith to take the attack on the Catholic Church as a direct attack on all law-abiding citizens, asking them to be in the vanguard of efforts to halt the evil assailing the life, property and integrity of humanity, particularly believers in God.

He also urged all sub-national governments to issue an ultimatum to the security agencies to unravel the identities of the perpetrators of the violation of sanctity of not only life, but also religion, and bring them to justice.

The Sultan said in the statement, “The security agents, who have been engaged to combat criminality and insecurity, are enjoined to heed the Qur’anic call that: …For had it not been that God checks one set of people by means of another; monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the name of God is persistently mentioned would surely have been pulled down.

“Verily, God will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, God is All-Strong, All-Mighty. (Q 22: 40). It is therefore mandatory for security agencies to help in rescuing the helpless citizens that we have all become.”

Police Launch Manhunt for Killers, as IG Condemns Dastardly Act

The police high command declared a manhunt for the killers of the worshippers on Sunday in Ondo State. It confirmed that the terrorists deployed AK 47 rifles and explosives in the massacre of the church members. The police also disclosed that they recovered pellets of AK 47 rifles and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) at the scene of the mass murder.

A statement from the Force Headquarters said the police recovered pellets of expended AK-47 ammunition and confirmed the use of explosives, as fragments of the IEDs used were found after thorough sweeping of the scene. It said preliminary investigation revealed that some of the gunmen disguised as congregants, while other armed men positioned themselves around the church premises from different directions from where they fired into the church.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Baba, who condemned the act, ordered full-scale investigation into the incident to bring to book the perpetrators.

The police statement said, “The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has condemned in all totality the brutal murder of innocent Nigerians in an attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owaluwa, in Owo, Ondo State. The attack was carried out by yet-to-be-identified gunmen at about 11.30am on Sunday 5th June, 2022.

“The gunmen, from preliminary investigations, invaded the church with arms and materials suspected to be explosives.

“Police investigators, who were part of the first responders deployed to the scene, have recovered pellets of expended AK-47 ammunition while the Explosive Ordnance Devices – Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Explosives (EOD-CBRNE) unit – confirmed the use of explosives as fragments of the IEDs used were found and after thorough sweeping of the scene, three unexploded IEDs were recovered at the scene of the incident.”

The statement signed by Force Public Relations Officer, Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi, added, “The assailants fled the scene using a Nissan Sunny car with Reg No. AKR 895 AG, which was snatched from the owner, and escaped through Owo/Ute road. The vehicle has been recovered while the owner of the vehicle is currently assisting the police in its investigations.

“The IGP has ordered full-scale investigations into the incident in order to bring to book the perpetrators of the gruesome killing of the worshippers at the church.”

The statement affirmed that the IG also ordered the deployment of specialised operatives of the Police EOD-CBRNE, police experts, and other tactical units from the Force Headquarters for a comprehensive investigation and for immediate interception of the villains.

The IG, therefore, condoled with Ondo State Government, family members, relatives and friends of those, who lost their lives in the attack.

He assured that “the heartless killers of the harmless victims, particularly, innocent children, would be made to face the full wrath of the law while the force will emplace strategies to forestall similar future occurrences,” the statement said.

Osinbajo, Tinubu, Fayemi, Makinde, Amosun Commiserate with Akeredolu, Olowo, NGF Donates N50m to Catholic Diocese

Osibanjo and Tinubu yesterday commiserated with the Ondo State governor, the people of the state, and the Catholic Church over the attack.

Osinbajo, while addressing journalists at the scene of the incident, said, “Let me say that I am completely speechless, looking at the extent of the tragedy that took place here yesterday (Sunday). I think the evil is almost unspeakable and horrible, indeed.

“I think it is just terrible and I’m here on behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the government to express our sincere condolences to the church and the people of Owo community and the people of Ondo State.

“It is a horrible tragedy and I don’t think anyone will wish this to their worst enemies. It is also a time for us to reflect deeply on our relationship with one another.”

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) also paid a condolence visit to the state.

Chairman of NGF and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, visited Akeredolu at the Government House, Akure. Former Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, accompanied Fayemi.

Fayemi and Amosun were later led by Akeredolu to the residence of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Bishop Jude Arogundade, before moving to Owo to commiserate with the Olowo of Owo, Oba Gbadegesin Ogunoye, in his palace.

Fayemi, who described the attack as least expected, stated that Owo had been a very peaceful environment.

Fayemi said, “It is a serious and unusual attack on the people who can’t go out and farm or worship God in peace. We are all shocked. Just like the governor said, these people shall not go unpunished. They will be hunted down and brought to book. But this cannot save the lives that have been lost or save the wounded from discomfort.

“As leaders of the people, we will redouble our efforts. This is happening across the county and we are concerned. We know how troubled you will be. And we know that this is something that troubles our minds.

“For now, the government at the state and federal levels are working to bring the perpetrators to book. My colleagues in the governors’ forum have asked me to donate N50 million to the Catholic Church to ameliorate the condition of the families of the victims. This is a crime against humanity.”

Arogundade described the attack as evil. He urged the governors to ensure that those behind the killing and their sponsors were brought to book.

The bishop stated, “I appreciate your coming and comments. How did we get here? Have we lost our mind and humanity? Even in war situation, nobody kills children and women. Nobody attacks the church.

“I am calling on you, the leaders of the country, I think we need to talk and we need to be frank with ourselves. This cannot happen without the backing of some powerful people. Those behind this, no matter how powerful they are, must be brought to book.

“How are we presenting ourselves as primitive. Ondo State doesn’t deserve this; humanity doesn’t deserve this. This doesn’t present us well. People are laughing at us.”

Northern Governors Condemn Attack

The Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) condemned the attack on worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State, which over 50 persons dead and others injured.

Chairman of the forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, said in a statement signed by his media aide, Simon Macham, that NSGF totally condemned the unprovoked attack on the Church and its worshippers. The statement said the attack was a clear attempt by criminals to instigate religious hatred and inflame passions among Nigerians.

While commiserating with the survivors, families of victims, the Catholic Church, and the Christian body in Nigeria, Lalong said the northern governors wanted security agencies to do everything to apprehend the perpetrators, their sponsors, and collaborators. This, he said, would not only ensure that justice was served, but also send a clear message to criminals bent on causing chaos in the country.

The governor added that the northern governors were in solidarity with their colleague, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, and the government of Ondo State.

Makinde Visits Scene of Attack, FMC Owo

Governor of Oyo State, ‘Seyi Makinde, yesterday, visited the church, where worshippers were attacked and killed on Sunday in Ondo State. Makinde, who condoled with the government and people of Ondo State, noted that necessary intelligence must be deployed to prevent a recurrence of such incident.

A statement by Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said Akeredolu and Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, received Makinde at the premises of the church.

The statement further said Makinde, who was accompanied by his Special Adviser on Strategy and Political Matters, Hon. Babatunde Oduyoye, visited the affected church and the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, in company of Akeredolu and Aregbesola.

Speaking to newsmen at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, where most of the surviving victims with various degrees of injury were receiving treatment, Makinde said the country must be prepared to stop terrorism.

He added that he was concerned and hoped there was no nexus between the June 5, 2021 attack on Igangan, Oyo State, and that of Owo, Ondo State, on June 5, 2022.

Makinde, who was moved to tears at the sight of an infant casualty with severe injuries, said the attack was unacceptable and highly condemnable.

He declared that such attacks must never be allowed to recur, calling on all stakeholders to be more prepared and deploy intelligence to prevent a recurrence.

The governor said, “We just saw a baby on the bed there struggling for life. It was a dastardly act. But we have to avoid any knee-jerk reaction. We have to use the intelligence that we have and not just say a particular thing cannot happen. We have to be prepared.

“I don’t want to make it sound as though this is a regional thing, but as long as it is not acceptable anywhere else, we don’t want to see this kind of thing anywhere in the South-west region of Nigeria.”

Hunt Down Criminals Responsible for Owo Attack, NLC tells FG

NLC urged the federal government to wake up from its slumber and mobilise security agencies to take full term justice to criminal elements causing mayhem across the country.

In a statement signed by NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, the congress said government should ensure swift administration of justice to the perpetrators of the dastardly act.

NLC said it was unfortunate and worrisome that barbaric attacks by all shades of criminals across the country were getting bolder and more daring as politicians hustled to occupy public elective positions.

“This is, indeed, one attack too many,” NLC stated. It said, “Our heart goes out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this despicable attack.

“Our prayers are also with those who were injured and we wish them very quick recovery and healing from yet another savage and satanic attacks on innocent citizens of our country.

“We urge the Ondo State government and the federal government to mobilise immediate medical supplies and other care items for victims. We also call for the beefing up of security in public spaces all over the country.

“Government must strengthen its intelligence gathering and surveillance mechanisms with the objective of preventing odious crimes of this nature.

“The fact remains that every action – whether good or bad – is planned before execution. We also commiserate with the Catholic Church and the Ondo State government for this great loss. Nothing can be more devilish than this.”

Catholic Group Protest in Jos, Says Government Has Failed

The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria protested the unwarranted killings of their members in Owo.

Addressing journalists in Jos, National President of Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria, Mr. Henry Yunkwap, lamented that the victims committed no other ‘crime’ than being Christians, and worshipping their God in church on the day the unfortunate incident occurred.

Yunkwap said, “I’m heartbroken and I find it very difficult to address my people at this moment knowing that we are yet to recover from the recent murder of our daughter and friend, the late Deborah Samuel, by some heartless religious extremists in Sokoto State.

“While we are making frantic efforts to console our people and also plead with our youths not to take laws in their hands, but to abide by the Bible injunction which admonished us, as Christians, to allow God take vengeance in all circumstances, over 50 innocent worshipers on Sunday, June 5, 2022 at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo in Ondo State were gruesomely murdered by the people we’ve deliberately refused to identify by their names but prefer to use ‘unknown gunmen’ when referring to them. This is uncalled for; this is unacceptable at this time.”

He warned that every life was sacred, adding that nobody has the right to take life in whatever way, be it under the guise of religion, ethnic or political differences.

Yunkwap said, “The ‘crime’ committed by those killed were just two; Christians, and secondly, because they were in the church on Sunday worshipping God.

“As a Christian group and direct mourners of this sad incident, we do not want to only condemn this barbaric act carried out by these animals in human form, but use this medium to let the government know that we have taken enough of this killing of our people and we find it very difficult to chew what is now being forcefully put in our mouth.

“Any government that cannot provide security for her people is indirectly telling them to defend themselves by whatever means. We are, indeed, tired of words; we want action and the urgent arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this evil act.

“Government must rise against just condemning the act by using the over-used words. They must see the life of every Nigerian as very important, not minding where he or she comes from.”

Diri Condoles with Victims’ Families, Akeredolu

Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, extended his condolences to the families of victims of the attack. Diri also condoled with his Ondo State counterpart, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, and condemned the attack on the worshippers as callous and extremely wicked.

The Bayelsa State governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, urged the federal government to spare no effort in unravelling the attackers and ensuring they were brought to justice.

The statement quoted Diri as saying, “This is another callous and mindless attack on defenceless worshippers. It is of more concern as the perpetrators of the dastardly act went into the temple of worship to desecrate it.

“All lovers of peace and our country must stand with the victims and families to condemn this very despicable act. I urge the federal government and the security agencies to spare no effort in tracking down the perpetrators and ensure that they face the wrath of the law.

“We mourn with families of the victims and pray that the Lord comforts them in this moment of grief. No word is soothing enough to succour them except the solace of the Lord.

“I also commiserate with my brother-governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, over this deeply sad incident. An attack on one in any part of the country is an attack on all of us that love the peace and unity of Nigeria.”

Diri, who equally condoled with the Catholic Church, said the culprits would face the wrath of God.

“I urge the Catholic Church and, indeed, the Church in Nigeria not to despair because of this attack, but to remain fervent in prayers. All evildoers will definitely have their day of reckoning,” the governor added.

Christian Body Flays Wanton killings in Owo Church, Elsewhere

The national leadership of Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship (NCGF) called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the challenge of insecurity in the country, saying Nigerians could not go to church to worship and feel safe any longer. The national president of NCGF, Professor Chuks Eboka, made the appeal in Benin City, Edo State, while addressing journalists. Eboka expressed sadness over the wanton killings everywhere in Nigeria.

He said NCGF was traumatised and shocked by Sunday’s killings at St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo.

According to him, “This has happened over and over, with lives of Nigerians being at the mercy of Boko Haram, killer herdsmen, and the so called bandits. We are aggrieved that there no longer exists any safe place in our country.

“Nigerians cannot go to church to worship and feel safe: they cannot travel by road and by rail in safety. Innocent lives are being wasted every day.”

The group also stated, “Nigerians have lost faith and trust in the current ruling class, regardless of the parties to which they belong,” after the unrests in parts of the country occasioned by the activities of Boko-Haram, Killer herdsmen, and bandits.

Eboka stated, “We call on President Buhari to urgently arrest this headlong descent into anarchy. We refuse to believe that our military is unable to effectively rein in those who are terrorising our people.

“If this degeneracy, insecurity and social crisis continue to escalate across the country, the National Assembly should do the needful by invoking the relevant provisions of the constitution to salvage the country.”

The national president of NCGF also described as vexatious and counterproductive the continued closure of the country’s universities, just as he lamented the alarming poverty index in Nigeria.

According to the group, as Nigeria heads towards 70 years of independence, there is an urgent need for a return to true federalism and nationalism as was practised in the First Republic. It observed that given all indicators, the present structure was not working and, indeed, could not work.

We Are All Potential Targets of Terrorists, Says APC Chieftain

A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ayodele Arise, SAID with the spate of insecurity in the country, everyone was now a potential terrorist target.

Arise, while reacting to the Owo incident, in a statement yesterday, described the sad occurrence as a national calamity. He said there was a need to be resolute in the fight against the insecurity ravaging the country.

Arise stated in the condolence message to the governor and people of Ondo State, “Please, accept my condolences over the gruesome massacre of worshipers in Owo, your hometown. That this could happen anywhere is the dangerous narrative of our time. The callous perpetrators chose to strike in the heart of one of Yoruba heritage and on holy ground.

“We must be resolute in our quest to fight the gory tragedies of insecurity ravaging our country. This grief is not just for you or Ondo people, it is a national grief that requires all hands on deck to confront the evil minds in our society.

“Nigeria must defeat all acts of terrorism. Everybody is a potential victim. We must act decisively and timely. God will grant you the wisdom to console your kith and kin.”

Buhari Overwhelmed by Insecurity, Says Accord Party

National Legal Adviser of Accord Party, Maxwell Mgbudem, yesterday, said the killing in Ondo State was an indication that Buhari was overwhelmed as the chief security officer of the country.

In a statement issued in Abuja, to condemn the tragic incident, Mgbudem said there was no doubt that Nigeria was at a crossroads, which he said required concerted effort by every stakeholder to find a lasting solution.

Mgbudem said in the statement, “Protection of lives and properties is the primary responsibility of the government. This is clearly stipulated in the 1999 Constitution, so any government that cannot guarantee this has failed in its basic obligation to the citizens.”

He lamented that the brazen wastage of innocent souls could only portray that Nigeria was on the way to becoming a failed state, saying this must be reversed immediately, especially given the huge human emergency it will create across West Africa.

Mgbudem, who is also National Vice Chairman of Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC), regretted that the security agencies had consistently failed to detect such ugly attacks before they happen. He said the arrogance with which the terrorists carried out their evil acts left much to be desired on the part of the Nigerian security and intelligence community.

He cautioned that if government failed to take urgent steps to rein in terrorism and their sponsors, the county might be thrown into anarchy due to reprisal killings. This, he said, will ultimately bring the existence of Nigeria to an ugly end.

While commiserating with the families and victims of the attack, Mgbudem challenged both the state and federal governments to work in synergy with the security agencies to track down the perpetrators of the act, saying it is one attack too many and cannot be swept under the carpet.

Your Govt in Abuja Has Failed Nigerians, Edo Government Chides APC

Special Adviser, Media Projects, to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, upbraided the state chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) over its silence on the church massacre in Owo.

The governor’s aide, in a statement, said it was unfortunate that the party in the state had kept mum in the wake of the attack, which had thrown the country into mourning.

Osagie stated, “Edo APC has been uncomfortably mum about the recent attack at the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, which has drawn condolences and condemnation from across the country.

“When Governor Godwin Obaseki embarks on foreign trips to seek investment, Edo APC is quick to throw tantrums. When there is momentary flooding in Benin metropolis, the party and their lackeys go about taking pictures, making bogus claims. But on a very important occasion, such as the Owo attack, they have failed to make a statement to commiserate with the victims.

“The attack speaks to the failure of the APC at the national level, in Abuja, to take responsibility and face the issue of safety and security squarely. This failing is what Edo APC has refused to acknowledge and draw the attention of its leaders in the executive arm of government to so as to forestall a reoccurrence.”

Culled from THISDAY

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