Before attacking Owo Church, terrorists bought roasted corn

before attacking owo church, terrorists bought roasted corn
before attacking owo church, terrorists bought roasted corn

The enduring tranquillity in Owo town, Ondo State, was disturbed by the barbaric murder of worshippers at the St. Francis Catholic Church Owo on Sunday.

I did not state that the Owo assailants were from Mali or Libya

Nobody could have foreseen such a heinous act coming from a town renowned over the years to be tranquil, peaceful, and tolerant of individuals of other cultures.

According to Owo’s high chief Alhaji Abimbola Omoloja, “Owo denotes the location of honour. We honour both ourselves and our guests, welcoming them into our folds. The non-native population is more than the native population. We have members of the Ebira, Kabba, Kwale, Ibo, Hausa, and other tribes. We have all of these individuals and have been coexisting harmoniously. In Owo, Hausas, Ibos, and Ebiras have been appointed as chiefs.”

In reference to the unfortunate event that occurred on Sunday, he stated that although there has been partial damage of people’s property in the farms in recent years, the town or even the state has never had it so bad.

“This Sunday was a nasty one for this town. Immediately after the incident, his royal majesty welcomed us to the palace. When we arrived, we realised the depth of the situation. We shall continue to pray that nothing of this nature ever occurs again.

Mr. Benjamin Asowa, a government worker and one of the victims of the terrorist assault, told Shauntv from his hospital bed at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, “The mass had just ended when the priest said, ‘Go in peace,’ and then we heard a gunshot.

A young boy who sold candy near the church’s entrance had been shot. People started sprinting helter-skelter. The subsequent explosion was nearly impossible to recall. Approximately four or five of them opened fire on us. I observed a young boy searching for his parents; he was murdered.

They did not show any mercy. Suddenly, a bullet struck me in the leg, and everyone around me was killed. All of them were young boys. My wife has also been admitted as a result of the explosion.

The manner in which they conducted that operation suggested that they were trained for it and that their purpose was to exterminate everyone. We no longer comprehend what is transpiring, as weird people have taken control.

He pleaded with the authorities to take security seriously.

Mrs. Precious Sunday, another victim, was shot in the back and near the breast. While writhing in anguish, she also described her experience to Shauntv on Sunday.

She stated that it was only by God’s grace that she escaped the attack. “I was in the church with my three children, one of whom, a four-year-old, was also shot and is currently being treated in the paediatric ward.

I never imagined that such a thing could occur in the Church and in a community as serene as Owo.”

The 35-year-old lady who claimed to be a businesswoman stated that she can only ask for God’s forgiveness on behalf of those responsible for this evil.

In his own words, Mr. Benjamin Ozulumba, a 49-year-old sawyer, said, “It was like a scene from a horror film; it is difficult to convey. I was seated with my mother, Mrs. Bridget Ozulumba, who was 78 years old at the time. The explosion injured both of my legs, but it killed my mother. When the explosion occurred, we were attempting to flee; I’m still in shock, but my wife and five children escaped unharmed.”

On that gloomy Sunday, Mrs. Gloria Okorie was also among the worshippers in church. She had taken her five children with her. She reported that one of her children, Faith Okorie, was shot, while the others escaped. Later, I learned that the Reverend Father hid my children in the restroom. We leapt over the fence, with the assistance of those in the market.

She prayed fervently for those who had helped the victims through donations and other methods.

Mrs. Caroline Agboola Aina, also known as Iya Alakara (vendor of bean cakes), was one of the victims whose narrative was different since she did not survive.

A bullet struck the 69-year-old woman who sold akara beside the church, killing her instantly.

Agboola Olalekan and Agboola Michael said to Shauntv that they were in Lagos when he learned of their mother’s passing. “I was startled and had to rush down. She was a good woman. Every morning and night, she calls her children to pray for us. “She was a crazy giver,” Michael remarked.

One of the leaders on the street where the church is located, Mr. Ojowa Clement, who spotted the bandits when they arrived at the church, stated that they were unaware of their goal.

According to him, “I was sitting outside the home with my wife and other individuals when they set out on that way” (pointing to a narrow path close to the Church). They arrived on foot while lugging sacks.

Even at one point, they stopped to purchase roasted corn. We failed to see them until they approached the driver of a Golf car and demanded his car key in front of the church. When he resisted, they produced a firearm, after which he complied and fled. At this point, a young boy selling candy was walking away; they beckoned him back and executed him with gunfire.

“At this point, we all fled and sheltered inside. Even though they fired against our home (indicating bullet holes in the structure), none of us were injured. After almost twenty minutes, the gunfire ceased, and people began to wail and cry. Since then, I have been ill since I have never witnessed something of this nature.”

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, who was in Abuja for an official engagement at the time of the tragedy, abruptly returned to his hometown of Owo.

Akeredolu promptly convened with the heads of security agencies for a briefing. In response to the tragic event, Pope expressed his profound sorrow over the unjustified attack and murder of innocent worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church.

According to him, “the nasty and demonic attack is a planned assault on the peace-loving citizens of the Owo Kingdom, who have enjoyed relative peace for years.”

“It is a Sunday of darkness in Owo. Our hearts are burdensome. The enemies of the people have assailed our tranquilly and calm. This is a personal loss and an assault on our beloved nation.

I chatted with Bishop Jude Arogundade of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo. Similarly, I had to cut short my party’s national mission in Abuja in order to get straight to Owo.”

Akeredolu assured that every effort will be made to capture and prosecute the offender.

The Church has also reached out to the state government to make burial preparations for the deceased. According to the Catholic Bishop of Ondo Diocese, Reverend Jude Arogundade, there are forty bodies in Owo’s Federal Medical Centre, St. Louis Hospital, and a few private institutions.

Governor Akeredolu has also announced that the Church will offer land for mass burial that will be transformed into a park.

Already, individuals and organisations are donating. APC leader Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu presented N50 million to the victims and N25 million to the church during a visit to Owo last week. The forum of governors also contributed N50 million to the victims.

Afenifere leaders were also there on Thursday, where Pa Ayo Adebanjo urged the populace to be prepared for self-defense.

Pa Adebanjo, while having sympathy for the people of Ondo State, the governor, Olowo of Owo Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin, and the Catholic church, urged for a thorough examination and implementation of community policing.

Dr. Liasu Adeagbo Ahmed, Chief Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre Owo, told Shauntv that the Federal government has instructed them not to accept money from the victims. He stated that NMA BEDC, First Bank, and other international health groups are also assisting the victims. They brought blood, food, and other types of assistance.

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sympathy for the Church and victims. A number of state governors, groups, and organisations have also visited the scene, the palace of the Olowo of Owo Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye, and the residence of Governor Akeredolu to express their condolences.

Arrangements are currently being prepared for the burial of the deceased, while security forces are collaborating to capture the robbers.

The rumoured arrest of the culprits was reported on Thursday night, and people who had lost loved ones in the horrible murder flocked to the palace of Olowo to catch a glimpse of the bandits.

Oba Ogunoye, addressing the gathering in Owo dialect, urged them to be calm, stating that he had received the same unconfirmed information as the villagers that the assailants had been arrested.

Our correspondent phoned Mrs. Funmilayo Odunlami, Police Public Relations, to confirm the arrest, but she merely responded, “I am unaware.”

Our correspondent was informed by a source within the palace of Olowo that the information was merely a rumour.

The source who wished to remain anonymous stated, “It was merely a rumour. When the rumour spread, thousands of young people surrounded the palace, but it turned out to be false alarm. Later, it was determined that some Fulani/Hausa men were caught with weaponry near the Owo/Benin border.”

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