Monday, 11th December 2023

Owo church attack rekindles calls for state police, referendum

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, John Akubo, Joke Falaju, Msugh Ityokura, Kanayo Umeh (Abuja), Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos), Gbenga Akinfenwa (Lagos), Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti), Monday Osayande (Asaba), Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan), Michael Egbejule (Benin City) and Anietie Akpan (Calabar)
07 June 2022   |   3:42 am
Sunday’s deadly attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, has again reignited calls for decentralisation of the nation’s security structure and holding of a referendum to determine grounds for national coexistence.

Scene after the terrorist attack at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State where scores of worshippers were killed, maimed. Photo/FACEBOOK/rotimiaketi

• It’s clear govt wants people to defend themselves, Catholic Council warns
• Olubadan regrets Amotekun security outfit couldn’t stop incident
• Anglican Primate seeks new constitution, says no group has monopoly of violence
• Okowa, Obaseki, Diri, Ayade, others, condemn massacre

Sunday’s deadly attack on St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, has again reignited calls for decentralisation of the nation’s security structure and holding of a referendum to determine grounds for national coexistence.

The incident, which killed dozens, happened as gunmen detonated dynamites and opened fire on worshippers as they celebrated Mass. It has also continued to generate widespread condemnation from across sections of the country.

The senator representing Osun Central, Ajibola Basiru, yesterday, said the bloodbath on Sunday, at a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State, has lent credence to agitations for state police.

Ajibola, who is the Senate spokesperson, also called on the government not to treat issues of national security, politically.

“We cannot continue the blame game over insecurity in our states when the security apparatus is controlled by federal authorities,” he said in a statement, calling on law enforcement agents to “do everything possible within their means to find out these people and what there motives are.”

SIMILARLY, the National President, Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (CLCN), Sir Henry Yunkwap (KSJI), addressed a press conference, in Jos, Plateau State, yesterday, where he declared: “For any government that cannot provide security for her people, it is indirectly telling them to defend themselves by whatever means they can.”

Yunkwap added: “We are indeed tired of words. We want action and the urgent arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of this evil act.” A cleric, Prophet Ade Ologbonyo of Christ Apostolic Church, CAC Boanerges Ministry, Ekiti State, said the incident has brought to the fore urgent need for a referendum to discuss the country’s future.

He told newsmen in Orun Ekiti, Ise-Orun Local Council: “Nigeria is not one country from all indications. If the country wants to remain as one entity, we must begin to practise true federalism and allow various regions to have some independence that would promote healthy competition.”

The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, charged governors of the South West to do more in securing the region. He noted: “With the creation of Amotekun and its activities so far, it was assumed that a lasting solution had been found to challenge kidnapping, banditry, herdsmen attacks and others. But, with Sunday’s ugly incident, it is not yet uhuru.”

He told the governors: “This is not time to seek political correctness at the detriment of the people that elected you into office. It is time to prioritise the safety of people’s lives and property.”

Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev Henry Ndukuba, condemned the attack and called for the perpetrators to be brought to book. He stressed the need for a new constitution to be drawn by all ethnic groups in the country. According to him, Nigeria has reached a breaking point and must take its destiny in its own hands.

He urged the National Assembly to put modalities in place for this to be achieved, noting that this is the only way citizens can relate with one another and share the commonwealth.

Speaking in Abuja, he said it is better for the country to remain united but warned that no particular group has monopoly of violence.

ALSO, several state governors, yesterday, condemned the attack, even as they commiserated with the people of Ondo State and urged security agencies to fish out the perpetrators.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State condoled with his Ondo State counterpart, Chief Rotimi Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika, where he expressed shock and sadness. He said: “The attack is not just barbaric but an affront on the Church of Christ, and we stand in solidarity with the Ondo people at this trying time.”

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, described the attack as barbaric and condemnable in a statement by his Special Assistant (Print Media), Moses Alao.
He said: “My deepest condolences to my brother, His Excellency Rotimi Akeredolu, the people of Owo, families of the victims and Ondo State on the dastardly attack on worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo.

“May the souls of the victims rest in peace. This unprovoked and barbaric attack is condemnable in its entirety. I urge the security agencies to ensure that the perpetrators are found and brought to book.”

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, in a statement, said: “This mindless act committed in a church where many gathered to seek spiritual solace and worship God has tilted the scale in our nation’s war against terror.

“I commiserate with families that lost loved ones in this act of shame, which has never before been heard of in the history of Owo, a quiet and peaceful town with inextricable ties with the people of Edo State.

“I also express my condolences to my colleague, the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, as well as all the people of Ondo State.” Presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rotimi Amaechi, condemned the attack and urged security agents to fish out the perpetrators.

Amaechi, in a statement released by his media office, described the attack as terrible, absolutely vile and senseless, saying, “I feel so sad and livid that these criminals are so emboldened to carry out these barbaric attacks on the people in broad day light.”

On his part, Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, expressed sadness over the horrific attack in a condolence message signed by his Deputy Chief Press Secretary, Linus Obogo.

He said: “I am outraged by the mindless and barbaric murder in a church of God where several worshippers were killed. I join all well-meaning Nigerians to condemn this unprovoked attack at a worship centre.

“This should not have happened. It is indeed, saddening that gradually our society is losing its humanity and something must be done to arrest the drift into barbarism.”

He added: “It is a terrible tragedy which must be condemned by all people of good conscience. I join other well meaning Nigerians to express my profound condolences and I offer my prayer for those who lost relatives and friends in the heinous killings.”

Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, extended condolences to families of victims, even as he condoled with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu. In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, he urged the Federal Government to spare no effort in unraveling the attackers and ensuring they are brought to justice.

He said: “This is another callous and mindless attack on defenseless 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 Catholic Church and indeed the Church in Nigeria not to despair because of this attack but remain fervent in prayers. All evildoers will definitely have their day of reckoning.”

MEANWHILE, Ondo State Eminent Persons Group condemned the attack in a statement by the Convener in Lagos, Mr. Banji Alabi. It commiserated with families and relatives of victims of the attack, the Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, the traditional ruler of Owo, Oba Ogunoye Gbadegesin, the Owo community and the Catholic Church in Nigeria.

Alabi, former Governing Council Chairman, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, noted that the incident was very alien to the town, the state and Yorubaland. He charged the Federal Government and security agencies to get to the root of the crime, fish out the evil doers and prosecute them accordingly, warning that failure to do this, is capable of aggravating ethnic mistrust currently ravaging the country.