The associate pastor of St Francis Xavier Church in Owo, Ondo State, has recounted his experience of the attack on the church on Pentecost Sunday, 5 June 2022. Fr Andrew Adeniyi Abayomi, says he was in the church when the attack took place. “I stood there in shock, wondering what was going on, when someone ran to me yelling, ‘Father, unknown gunmen!’ I urged people to move through the sanctuary into the sacristy. Some of the parishioners escaped through there. I remained in the inner part of the sacristy. I could not run as I was surrounded by children, while some adults clung to me, some even inside my chasuble. I shielded them just as a hen shields her chicks. We left the dead bodies in church, while trying to save the wounded. Some of the attackers disguised themselves as regular parishioners during Mass. They worshipped with us during Mass until the attack started.” Fr Abayomi said that it was difficult to identify where the attackers were from because they did not speak at all, and after the attack, which lasted about 20 minutes, he went into the church and that is where he saw the dead and wounded. “(The) government as well as non-governmental organisations, like the Red Cross and other groups, even Muslim groups, and imams, are coming to our aid practically and financially. The Red Cross has been the most active, pleading for blood donors and material support. We need material and financial support to care for the victims and the survivors, we also need our own security strategy. Nearby security personnel and police failed to come to our rescue, even though the attack lasted 20 minutes and four artefacts exploded. We need our own security apparatus.” Many parishioners are afraid of returning, but understand that they need to show solidarity and resilience in the face of the awful attack.

The victims of the attack, were buried in a mass requiem Mass, on Friday. The Mass, held at the Mydas Resort and Hotel, in Owo, was for 22 victims of the massacre. Speaking at the funeral, the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, admitted that government failed in its duty to protect people. “We have to defend these people. Not because we have not tried, but because these forces on the other side are evil and they have supports. They will not triumph over us forever. When I see the sea of heads here it speaks volumes. What has happened to us in Owo, in Ondo State is indescribable. A lot of words are used to qualify it- dastardly, horrendous-but I still believe there are words to use to describe it but I’m still short of those words. We have just 22 in this hall. A few of them have been buried because the relatives couldn’t wait till today. But as at the last count, these animals came to the church and murdered 40 people.” Highlighting the need for a police presence, the bishop of the diocese of Ondo, Jude Arogundade, expressed his bewilderment: “Why do the people of this country need to beg for state police, despite the endless attacks and killings?” Mr. Nwani Christopher, who lost a brother and a niece in the attack, also expressed his shock and sadness. “I lost somebody who is very dear to me, a senior brother with his daughter, a promising child that we were hoping would grow to be a person the family will depend on. It was a tragic event on that June 5 that somebody went to church and never came back. What I want to use this opportunity to say is, let the government decide if this country can still accommodate all of us despite their sermon of unity in diversity, I’ve not seen that one Nigeria. Why are all these things happening? It seems the people at the top are intentionally keeping silent. Are they benefiting from all these?” the bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, also tried to encourage the congregants in the face of increasing instability, “we remain hopeful about the future of our country which is in the hands of God. Where we are now is not Nigeria, we don’t recognize our country any longer but again we have nowhere to turn to except to look up to God. We are prayerfully hoping on the power of God more than any person can talk about. We call on our people to remain strong.”

In Kaduna State, terrorists attacked a church, killed 3 worshippers and abducted no fewer than 36, according to Mr. Reuben Buhari. “Attacks on rural communities by kidnappers have been going on without respite. Most go unannounced, unreported…the attack on Roboh village, Kajuru today where 36 people were kidnapped and 3 killed wasn’t the first attack, on 5th January 2022, it was attacked and some (people) kidnapped. On 27 April 2022, the community was attacked again and this tome some houses were burnt. Then the attack of today, 19 June 2022. The people in the village decided to start holding church services early by 7am so that people can hurriedly go back to their homes. It was some few minutes after 7am today, while both the Catholic and Baptist churches were holding their services when the kidnappers attacked. I spoke to a man whose wife, mother and daughter were taken from the Baptist church today. The anguish in his voice is something none of us should experience. The worrisome part of the insecurity is that most in Roboh have difficulties cultivating their farms. Moreover, because villages like Bakin Gada, Ungwan Pada, Maikori, Dogon Noma, that surrounds Roboh have all been attacked at different times, people find it difficult to venture far to their farms. Now, this man and others would wait for when the kidnappers would call and ask for ransom. They would start borrowing, begging and selling anything to raise the ransom. After it’s paid, the kidnappers would come again, kill and again kidnapped (sic).” The three casualties are: Peter Madaki, Elisha Ezekiel and Ali Zamani. The commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs Ministry, Mr. Samuel Aeuwan, had this to say: “Two persons were left injured in the attacks: one Aniro Mai, and a yet-unidentified woman., and unspecified number of locals were also kidnapped, according to the received reports. The bandits looted shops and carted away some valuables from the villages. The Acting Governor, Dry Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, expressed deep sadness, and condemned the attack in the strongest terms. She sent her sincere condolences to the families of the deceased victims, as she prayed for the repose of their souls. The Acting Governor also commiserated with the attacked churches, and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured. Security patrols were being conducted in the general area as investigations proceed.”

The kidnappers have now demanded a ransom of N100m to release the abducted victims.

Oyo State- approximately 30 farmers from the Oke-Ogun area of the state have various injuries-from critical to lesser and are receiving treatment at different hospitals, as a result of attack perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen, while the farmers were on their way to Ayisbo Local Government for an awareness campaign. According to Alhaji Saheed Alaran, local farmers are no longer able to tend to their farms, as a result of never-ending attacks on them, up to and including killings, allegedly perpetrated against them by the Fulani’s. He insisted that it is time now for the Federal and State governments, and security forces, to have an immediate response to the attacks and halt them. “This recent attack where 30 members of this group were critically injured to the point that people are still fearing that they might die calls for serious attention from the Nigerian President, Muhammad Buhari, and Governor Seyi Makinde. People have talked so much about the fact that these herders have invited their people from foreign countries and their number today is alarming that they have outnumbered our people in many communities in Oke-Ogun. These people are still in critical condition, we are not happy about this and we will not fold our hands while our people are a=daily killed and maimed by these bandits,” he said.



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